In the highest ever bid on offer to find new oil and gas fields, the Director General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) has offered over two lakh square kilometres of India's land and sea for exploration and production of oil and gas.

A DGH notification says the Offshore Bid Round (OALP Bid Round-IX) under Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) will offer 26 blocks spread over 9 sedimentary basins covering an area of approximately 2.23 lakh for Exploration and Development through international competitive bidding. About 36 blocks in these regions are estimated to have an oil and gas resources potential of 1,775 metric million tonnes of oil equivalent (MMTOE). Interested parties can submit their Expression of Interest (EoI) in three rounds throughout the year until March 2003.

Since the launch of HELP on March 30, 2016, replacing the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) 1999, with more attractive incentives for E&P, India had offered about two lakh sq. kilometers rounds of bidding for 134 blocks. Winners of Round-VIII blocks of 36,316 sq km are yet to be announced, and if that is also added, the total area on offer will increase to 2,44,007 sq km. 

Under HELP, the hydrocarbon licensing policies were re-modelled to make E&P investment commercially attractive with incentives like lower and graded royalty rates, no revenue sharing for category II and III basins which are less prospective, 100% Participating Interest (PI) allowed for foreign/private players etc.

DGH says of the 26 blocks on offer, 15 are in ultra deep-water, 8 are in shallow water and 3 blocks are on land. Ultra deep-water blocks cover an area of 1,59,439.82 Sq. km in Krishna Godavari, Mahanadi, Saurashtra, Andaman-Nicobar and Bengal-Purnea shores. Shallow water blocks covering an area of 59,925.27 are spread over Mumbai Offshore, Krishna Godavari, Saurashtra and Bengal-Purnea areas. These three categories belonging to the 'Government offer' category constitute about 15 blocks. Another 8 blocks at Cauvery, Cambay, Assam Shelf and Saurashtra basins will be bidded out based on Expression of Interest (EoI) from potential investors.

Besides, the DGH is offering 16 CBM blocks in a special bid round spread over Madhya Pradesh(4), Chhattisgarh, Telangana (3 each), Maharashtra, Odisha (2 each), Jharkhand and West Bengal (one each).

The DGH was established in 1993 as an independent regulatory body under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas for regulating the leasing, licensing, development, conservation, and management of oil and natural gas resources in India.

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