Modi govt plans new oil exploration norms

  • Anupama Airy, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 21, 2014 01:27 IST

A new oil and gas exploration policy with transparent procedures is on the way to woo leading energy companies such as Chevron and ExxonMobil to invest in India’s oil and gas sector, and to revive the interest of global major such as BHP Billiton and Santos, which left the country citing policy delays.

A senior party leader told HT that the focus of the Narendra Modi-led BJP government will be to put in place a policy that will accelerate the oil and gas exploration and production work in existing blocks, and not hastily commence another round of oil and gas block offerings.

“There will be no NELP-10 round till we first accelerate work in the existing oil and gas blocks...the party is uncomfortable with India’s growing dependence on oil imports, currently pegged at close to $160 billion (Rs. 9.5 lakh crore) a year. We aim to work towards restoring the interest of existing and leading oil and gas majors in the country’s energy sector,” he said.

The national convenor of BJP’s energy cell, Narendra Taneja, told HT that there is a strong possibility that the new government would come out with a new policy approach for exploration and production of hydrocarbons, especially natural gas.

Companies such as BHP Billiton and Santos backed out of India citing policy paralysis and delays in getting approvals; they will be approached and asked to stay on, he said. “The existing developers of oil and gas in India have conveyed to us that they will not invest any further till the issues over timely approvals and pricing get sorted out... NELP-10 will happen only after creating confidence among existing investors,” Taneja added.

There will be greater focus on deepwater exploration of oil and gas, as 55% of India’s oil and gas reserves are in deep water. “Development of natural gas will be the focus... top geologists have said India has more gas than oil,” Taneja said. “Bay of Bengal and Andaman and Nicobar are floating on gas and we need to focus on getting these reserves into production.”

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