Days after the government announced a duty cut on transport fuels in the union budget 2007-08, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora on Friday clarified that there were no plans to cut retail prices of petrol and diesel.
"There is no such proposal before the ministry at the moment," Deora said on the sidelines of an event to sign production-sharing contracts for 52 hydrocarbon blocks awarded under the last round of exploration licensing policy.
The contracts were signed between the government and the consortiums, including those led by Oil and Natural Gas Corp, the Essars, Reliance Industries, British Gas, Cairn Energy, Geoglobal of Barbados and Oil India Ltd., which won the bids.
"The sixth round under the new exploration licensing policy will lead India into joining the league of nations which will have one of the most extensive deep water exploration programmes," Deora said.
He said under the sixth round, bids were received for 21 deepwater blocks and for all the 12 land blocks - the highest ever. Between 2000 and 2006, under the previous five rounds, a total of 110 contracts had been signed.
This had resulted in 32 discoveries of oil and gas and 400 million tonnes of oil and equivalent of gas. "Today the contribution of private, joint venture firms to India's oil and gas is a healthy 18 per cent," the minister said.
India imports close to 70 per cent of its crude oil need and the government is keen on encouraging new discoveries to ensure energy security.