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India Launches Biggest Its Biggest Ever Oil Tender

India launched a tender for 75 oil and gas blocks—the biggest oil and gas tender in the history of its industry.

The tender is for so-called discovered small fields, or DSFs, across 32 contract areas both onshore and offshore, the Indian Directorate General of Hydrocarbons said. Bids will begin being accepted on February 1 next year, Upstream reported.

The terms of the tender include a single license for conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon reserves, and attractive tax rules, as well as the absence of a signing bonus requirement.

News of the tender first emerged last year in June, when then Energy Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said this would be the last auction of small fields and added, "There will be no DSF next time. Next time, it will be a 'major' round (auction of large fields)."

The 75 discovered small fields to be auctioned in February were initially licensed to state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and India Oil but turned out to be too small for profitable development by the two majors.

The tender aims to alleviate a heavy national dependence on imported oil, which accounts for more than 80 percent of consumption. Just this month, Indian Oil Corp. inked a deal with Russia's Rosneft for the supply of 2 million tons of crude next year.  India is also a major importer of Middle Eastern and U.S. crude.

The latest crude oil import figures for November show average intakes of 4.08 million barrels daily, up from 3.96 million bpd in October. Of this, 2.93 million bpd came from Middle Eastern producers. Imports from North and South America went down to less than 700,000 bpd.

This is the third offering of discovered small fields since the policy was introduced six years ago. In the first two tenders, the state awarded licenses for 54 blocks, attracting investments of $1.76 billion.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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