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Wrapping up Round 2, Govt looks to go for Round 3 of oil block auction soon

PW Bureau

Exploration blocks that will be up for sale in the third round would be spread over 32,000 square km, the government said New Delhi: After wrapping up the long-overdue auction of 14 oil exploration blocks for prospecting of oil and gas, the government is now looking to launch a third round of auctions under its Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) within the next few weeks, a statement released by the government said. Exploration blocks that will be up for sale in the third round would be spread over 32,000 square km, the government said. The fourth and fifth round of auction is also slated to happen later this year.
Under OALP, companies are permitted to submit an expression of interest (EoI) for prospecting of oil and gas in any areas that do not have a license for production or exploration.
At the OALP bid – launched by oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday – 14 blocks measuring 29,333 square kilometres in aggregate area were auctioned. In an attempt to bring about 2.8 million square kilometres of unexplored area in the country under exploration, India, in July 2017, had permitted companies to set up oil blocks of their preference. Under the policy, companies are permitted to submit an expression of interest (EoI) for prospecting of oil and gas in any areas that do not have a license for production or exploration. The EoIs can be put in at any time of the year but are collected twice yearly. The areas that receive EoIs at the end of a cycle are auctioned with the originator or the firm that originally selected the area getting a five-mark advantage. Each year, the two windows for accumulating EoIs end on May 15 and November 15. EoIs collected till May 15 are to be auctioned off by June 30 and those in the second window by December 31. The first round of the OALP auction was launched in 2017, with bids coming in by May last year. EoIs for the second round closed on May 15 last year and the blocks were supposed to be put for auction by June but the round was delayed for unknown reasons.