India on Friday offered 34 oil and gas blocks for exploration in the 9th round of New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).
"Government is offering 34 blocks covering an area of 88,807 square km," Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said.
"Last date for bidding for blocks offered under NELP-IX is March 18, 2011," he added.
The blocks offered include 8 deep-sea, 7 shallow water and 19 onland, Deora said. The onland blocks include 8 small blocks for which there is technical qualifying criteria for companies to bid.
The first roadshow for NELP-IX will be held in Mumbai on October 18.
In the eight rounds of NELP since 1999, 235 blocks have been awarded till date. This has resulted in enhancement of exploration coverage from 11 per cent to about 58 per cent of Indian sedimentary basin between 2000 and 2010.
"The discoveries made under the NELP have resulted in in-place hydrocarbon reserve accretion of a staggering 642 million tons of oil and oil equivalent gas," Deora said.
A total of 87 oil and gas discoveries have been made in 26 blocks under NELP during this period.
Out of 81 oil and gas discoveries, natural gas production in Reliance Industries eastern offshore KG-D6 block commenced from April 2009.
The 8th round, which closed on October 12, 2009 attracted investment commitment of USD 1.34 billion for 36 blocks that received offers. Under NELP-VIII, 70 areas or blocks for exploration were offered, the biggest licensing round in India.
Of the 36 areas bid for, the government had awarded 33 blocks to successful bidders.