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India has increased the estimates of its oil and gas resources by 50 percent from the volumes assessed more than 20 years ago, the country’s oil regulator said, just days before launching the first bidding round for acreage that oil companies themselves have pinpointed as worth exploring.
“There are about 222 billion barrels of oil and oil equivalent gas yet-to-be-found resources in India,” Atanu Chakraborty, head of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, told Bloomberg in an interview published on Tuesday.
“It’s a whole lot for which investors will be looking on very eagerly,” the official noted.
A major importer of crude oil, India has vowed to cut the country’s oil import dependence by 10 percent by 2022, but some analysts think that it will be unable to reach that target.
Big Oil has so far shunned India’s exploration areas, preferring to focus on proven basins with better economics. So India amended its acreage bidding rules last year, introducing the so-called Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) in which oil companies were allowed to carve out acreage they consider would be prolific. The exploration and production sector has remained a main focus area for the Government, all the more so after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi set a target to reduce import dependence by 10 percent by 2022, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in June 2017 announcing the new bidding policies.
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On Thursday, January 18, India will launch the bidding round for 55 blocks in ten different areas covering around 60,000 square kilometers (23,166 square miles). It will be the first-time that 55 bidder-selected blocks will be on offer, according to the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons.
Companies have been mostly interested in areas in the Assam state in the northeast, the oldest oil-producing region, and in acreage in the Rajasthan and Gujarat states in the west, Chakraborty told Bloomberg.
The bidding round opens on January 18 and closes on March 31, with awarding of blocks slated for June 2018, according to the directorate’s timeline.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.