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Govt to offer 20 oil blocks in Jan

November 26, 2004 16:03 IST

The government will offer 20 oil and gas exploration blocks in the fifth round of bidding under the New Exploration Licensing Policy in January 2005, Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said on Friday.

"With a view to bringing more areas of the country under exploration and production of oil and gas expeditiously, steps have been initiated to offer blocks under the 5th round of NELP, which is expected to be launched in early January 2005, offering 20 exploration blocks, including inland, shallow offshore and deepwater blocks," he said at the consultative committee meeting of his ministry in New Delhi on Thursday night.

In the first four rounds of NELP bidding, Government has awarded 90 oil and gas blocks. Aiyar said during last six months, Reliance Industries has made gas discoveries in two blocks - one off the Andhra coast and another off Orissa. Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation has found oil in the state while Cairn Energy of UK has made two oil discoveries in Rajasthan.

Besides intensifying exploration within the country, India is also acquiring oil properties abroad to cut its dependence on imported crude oil, prices of which have spiralled during past few months.

ONGC Videsh has acquired assets in Sudan, Australia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Libya, Ivory coast, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia, with an estimated investment of $3.5 billion he said.

In 2003-04, India got 3.345 million tonnes of crude oil from its stake in an oil field in Sudan and 0.523 billion cubic meters of gas from a Vietnam gas field.

The government has revised the target for oil and gas from overseas fields. The country is now targeting 20 million tonnes of oil and gas by 2010 instead of 2020 previously decided, Aiyar said.

He said India was eyeing oil properties in Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Australia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria, Sudan and West Africa.

"In order to mobilise all our diplomatic experience and expertise to synchronise with our investments abroad, Government has formed an 11-member Standing Advisory Committee on Diplomacy and Energy Security headed by economist Arjun Sengupta," he said.

The Committee comprises former diplomats and has been entrusted with the task of facilitating security of oil and gas properties in oil-rich countries, particularly in West Asia.

In a presentation made to the committee, it was pointed out that as per International Energy Agency estimates, a $10 per barrel increase in crude oil price would result in 1 per cent loss in India's GDP and 2.6 per cent increase in inflation the following year.

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