Cabinet Allows Ministers Of Finance And Petroleum To Award Oil And Gas Blocks

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New Delhi: The Union cabinet on Wednesday allowed ministers of finance and petroleum to award oil and gas blocks to winners in the ongoing auction, bids for which are due on May 2. This has been in a bid to expedite the process of awarding of licences. Till now, only the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister had the powers to approve the award of a block or area for the exploration and production of oil and gas.
 
“In line with the government’s initiative of ease of doing business, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister NarendraModi has given its approval for delegating the powers to minister of petroleum and natural gas and finance minister to award blocks/contract areas to successful bidders,” an official statement said.

The two ministers will approve the award based on the recommendations of a panel of secretaries, called the Empowered Committee of Secretaries (ECS).
The delegation of power is for Open Acreage Licencing Policy (OALP) bid rounds under the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP). Presently, the first round of OALP is underway, with bids for 55 exploration blocks on offer for prospecting of oil and gas due on May 2. These blocks are to be awarded by July.
“Under HELP, blocks are to be awarded twice in a year. Therefore, this delegation of powers will expedite the decision making process on awarding blocks and give a boost to the initiative of ease of doing business,” the statement said.
In July last year, India had allowed companies to carve out blocks of their choice with a view to bringing about 2.8 million sq km of unexplored area in the country under exploration. Under this policy, called HELP, companies are allowed to put in an expression of interest (EoI) for prospecting of oil and gas in any area that is presently not under any production or exploration licence.

 

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