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Vedanta bags 41 out of 55 oil blocks in first round of open acreage auction

Mail Today Bureau     August 29, 2018

Billionaire Anil Agarwal-led Vedanta Ltd has bagged 41 of the 55 oil and gas exploration blocks offered in India's maiden open acreage auction, upstream regulator DGH announced on Tuesday. State-owned Oil India Ltd won nine blocks, while its big brother Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) managed to bag just two.

State gas utility GAIL, upstream arm of Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd and Hindustan Oil Exploration Co (HOEC) were awarded one block each, DGH said giving out list of winners of Open Acreage licensing Policy (OALP) round-1.

Vedanta, which had put in bids for all the 55 blocks, won the right to explore and produce oil and gas in 41 of them. "We will work hard to make the best of this opportunity. We are an energy deficient country and policies like OALP will help reduce country's import dependence for oil from around 80 per cent now to 67 per cent by 2022, in line with the PM's vision," Anil Agarwal said.

"The development further strengthens our vision to invest in India and contribute 50 per cent of India's domestic crude oil production," Agarwal further added.

At the close of the bidding on May 2, ONGC had bid for 37 blocks either on its own or in consortium with other stateowned firms. Likewise, OIL bid for 22 blocks. Vedanta was the sole bidder for two blocks and had either ONGC or OIL as a direct competitor in the remaining blcoks.

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries did not participate in this round. Foreign oil biggies also chose to stay away from the auction as they did not view India as a hot oil destination as no major find has been made in the country in recent years.

India had in July last year 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, companies are allowed to put in an expression of interest (EoI) for prospecting of oil and gas in an area that is presently not under any production or exploration license. The EoIs can be put in any time of the year but they are accumulated twice annually.

The 55 blocks have a total area of 59,282 sq km. Blocks are awarded to the company which offers highest share of oil and gas to the government as well as commits to do maximum exploration work by way of shooting 2D and 3D seismic survey and drilling exploration wells.

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