The government has received 57 expressions of interest (EoI) by mid-November 2017 when the window for the first round of applications closed. The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), the technical arm of oil ministry which is overseeing the bidding process, is now on course to launch auction and award blocks. The government is planning to finish auction by March 2018 and award blocks by June 2018 in the first round of oilfield auctions, slated to be launched on January 16 under the new hydrocarbon exploration licensing policy.
According to the new policy, anybody can access hydrocarbon data for a fee, and submit EoI for a block. The policy gives companies the freedom to carve a block of their choice based on available data. Their application is examined, and if found fit by DGH, leads to an auction where everyone can put in their bid for that specific block. However, the company submitting original interest gets bonus marks during evaluation of bids.
The auction, opening mid-January, would close by March-end. In another three months, bids are likely to be evaluated and blocks awarded.
Under the new policy, companies can bid round the year although their applications will be bunched and evaluated only twice a year, at the end of two respective six-monthly windows. The second window that's currently open will close in mid-May. The first closed mid-November.
In the first round, of the 57 EoI for 66,000 sq km submitted by companies, 19 came from private players. A total of 97 companies accessed data room but far fewer companies submitted applications.