Minister defends India's NELP program

India’s minister of state for petroleum and natural gas has defended the country’s New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) against criticism that the program hasn’t attracted broad international interest, saying 7 of 36 companies submitting bids in the latest round are non-Indian (OGJ Online, Mar. 28, 2012).

The minister, Shri R.P.N. Singh, said foreign bidders in the ninth NELP round were Birkbeck Investments Ltd., Mauritius; East West Petroleum Corp., Canada; Heramec Ltd., Bahamas; Cairn Energy India Pty. Ltd., Australia; BHP Billiton Petroleum (International) Exploration Pty. Ltd., Australia; Deep Energy LLC, US; and BG Exploration & Production India Ltd., Cayman Islands.

Singh made his report in response to an inquiry from the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament. India held its first NELP bidding round in 1999.

Singh said the program has attracted investment of about $20 billion and resulted in 40 oil and 71 gas discoveries, representing proved plus probable reserves totaling 737 million tonnes of oil equivalent.

Production has begun from six NELP discoveries, he said, with current rates of 11,300 b/d of oil and 29 million standard cu m/day.

In the nine NELP rounds, the government has signed production sharing contracts covering 249 blocks.

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