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India Announces New Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy

India aims at energy security by increasing oil and gas production in upstream sector and acquiring assets overseas

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India has announced a new hydrocarbon exploration licensing policy which offers single license to explore conventional and unconventional oil and gas resources, as the country seeks to propel investment in the energy sector.

Christened "Hydrocarbon Exploration Licensing Policy" or HELP, the new policy also gives the investors the much needed freedom in pricing and marketing for crude oil and natural gas.

The new policy is part of the strategy to make India a business and investor friendly destination and achieve the plan to double India's existing oil production from current 80 million metric tons to about 150-155 million metric tons by 2022, said the Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Pradhan is leading a high-powered delegation to Houston to attend CERAWeek 2017 an international meeting of top leaders from the oil, energy and natural gas industry.

In addition to the Canadian Prime Minister, the week-long meeting is being attended by oil and energy ministers from countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

"In the new model, government will not micromanage, micro monitor with producers. Government will only share revenue. It will be an open and regular affair," Pradhan told reporters at a news conference here.

"The policy aims to propel investment in the energy and petroleum sector and provide operational flexibility to the investors," he said.

One of the key features of the new policy is Open Acreage licensing which permits investors to select the exploration blocks after accessing G&G and historic data of India through the national data repository. They can then submit expression of interest for such blocks without waiting for formal bid round.

Pradhan hoped that the bidding under the new policy would be in mid-July.

Mature Fields

Pradhan said the Union government is also contemplating a policy for production enhancement of mature fields currently being operated by national oil companies by inducting partners to infuse state of the art E&P technologies, investments and best-in class management practices.

"The objective of this policy would be to increase India's indigenous oil and gas production by maximising the potential of already discovered hydrocarbon resources in India," he said.

"We need global best practices and modern technologies to develop the sector. With this in mind, we have introduced landmark changes in the entire value chain of oil and gas sector," he said.

As India embarks on an "ambitious developmental agenda" set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, energy would play a "key role" in achieving this goal, Pradhan said.

"Energy is the single most catalyst of this developmental growth story," he said.

Pradhan's response assumes significance as the International Energy Agency in its latest report said that India would soon become the top energy consuming country of that world and that it is moving to the centre stage of the global energy market.

India, he said, needs to equip itself with energy sufficiency for its energy security.

"So, energy is the commodity for this growth story. We want to create a conducive atmosphere for energy, for its investment, for its market, for accessibility.

"This can be achieved only through reforms, progressive and business-friendly policies," he said in response to a question.

Pradhan said India's energy sector has become one of the "favourite" destinations for foreign direct investment.

"So many energy companies are looking toward Indian market," he said.

India's growth rate has led to an increasing pressure on the country's energy sector across the upstream and downstream domains, he said.

"India is the third largest oil consumer in the world, which is a clear indication of the importance of petroleum products in our lives," he said, adding that according to the IEA India is likely to contribute to the rise in global energy demand over the next decades.

In the next 25-30 years, Pradhan said, the incremental growth in India would be 30 per cent, which he said, is "the highest" in the world.

Four Pillars

"As a commodity, energy is the destination for India," he said.

Pradhan said India's focus of energy is on four pillars -- energy access, sufficiency, sustainability and security.

India aims at energy security by increasing oil and gas production in upstream sector and acquiring assets overseas, and energy sustainability by increase in production of renewable energy, and use of cleaner fuels, he said.

India, he said, plans to achieve energy sufficiency by increasing capital investment in all sectors and also in railways and opening up of new inland waterways routes, and energy access by providing affordable energy to common mass, developing petroleum infrastructure and expanding national gas grid network.

"Very soon the government will notify LNG as a transportation commodity. All technical and scientific experiments have been completed in competent agencies and we will be using LNG as a transportation fuel in long haul transportation and city transportation," he said.


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