Government to offer new oil blocks for exploration

The central government is reportedly planning to auction some oil blocks by June 2017 and will allow bidders to identify the areas where they intend to carry out drilling operations in order to attract greater interest. The planned auction will be the country’s first major exploration licensing round since 2010, apart from the recent award of the 31 small fields to local firms. The exploration licensing policy was changed last year, with a shift to a revenue sharing model, while also allowing pricing and marketing freedom to operators. A national data repository will be set up to provide bidders with preliminary data on exploration areas that are to be auctioned. The firms will study the data and delineate the area they want to bid for instead of depending on the government to prepare the exploration block. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has hired consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to advise on the process for the next licensing round. PwC will provide details including the size of areas to be offered, the frequency of the bidding process and the preparation of bid documents.