Changes in contractual terms proposed for the seventh round of the New Exploration Licensing Policy (Nelp-VII) have come under the law ministrys scanner. Consequently, the launch of Nelp-VII is likely to be delayed by a month. The Nelp-VII was scheduled to be launched on November 5, on the eve of the two-day conclave of African oil producers.
There have been some changes in the bid evaluation criteria (BEC) and production sharing contract (PSC) for the forthcoming Nelp round. It is proper that the changes must get vetted by the law ministry before the government would formally announce Nelp-VII, an official said. The announcement is expected in December after the winter session of Parliament. The winter session starts from November 15 and would continue up to December 7.
There have been changes in BEC and model PSC for future Nelp rounds as per the suggestions of the empowered group of ministers (E-GoM) constituted to resolve the natural gas pricing and its allocation issues. Sources said the price discovery process on arms-length basis would be adopted in the future Nelp contracts only after the approval of the price formula or basis by the government. It is also proposed that domestic oil companies interested in prolific oil and gas exploration blocks in the Indian deepwaters must form a consortium with an experienced foreign partners to emerge a winner in the forthcoming rounds of bidding. Joint venture with a minimum 10% foreign stake would get a maximum 10-point weightage while evaluating bids for deepwater blocks.
It is likely that about 55-60 blocks would be offered under Nelp-VII. According to sources; the identified blocks for Nelp-VII are located in the Rajasthan basin, Cambay basin, Himalayan Foreland and Punjab basin, Ganga basin, Kutch basin, Saurasthra basin, Vindhyan basin, Mumbai Offshore basin, Kerala- Konkan basin, Purnea basin, Bengal basin. Mahanadi basin, Krishna-Godavari basin, South Rewa basin, Palar basin, Assam-Arakan basin, Deccan Syneclise, Cuddapah basin and Andaman basin.
It is likely that some identified blocks would be dropped in this round due to security concerns or other considerations, sources said. It is understood that concerns have been raised by the home ministry over some of the prospective areas in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradash and Jharkhand. Consequently, the number of blocks offered under the Nelp-VII may reduce from the identified 80-85 blocks.