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India's oil minister opens bid round in DSF-III auction

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Platts Global Alert - Oil

India's oil minister opens bid round in DSF-III auction

India's oil minister Hardeep Singh Puri opened the bid phase of the third round of Discovered Small Fields (DSF-III) on July 30, and invited foreign investors like BP and ExxonMobil to tap huge potentials offered by Asia's third-largest economy's hydrocarbon sector.

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Puri assumed the charge of the oil ministry in early July from his predecessor Dharmendra Pradhan who had served the ministry for seven years.

The new oil minister promised investors a friendly policy regime since 2014 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed power.

"The government stands ready to partner with you both in the identification of what remedial steps we need to take in the ecosystem, and then work with you in overcoming those hurdles," Puri said at a virtual investors' meet.

India has offered 32 contract areas for 75 oil and gas fields in nine sedimentary basins covering more than 13,000 sq km in the DSF-III round.

India's upstream regulator, Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, opened data for fields offered under the latest round on June 10 for evaluation.

The regulator has fixed Aug. 31 as the date for the closure of bids.

Oil ministry officials said the fields would be awarded to the successful bidders by December.

"If anyone, anywhere in the world is thinking of good investment in energy, India is a good place to begin," Puri said.

The offered discovered fields include 54 in shallow water, 2 in deepwater, and 19 are on-land fields. Together these fields are estimated to hold oil and gas reserves of around 230 million mt of oil equivalent, or 1.7 billion boe.

India's oil production is set to be 1.32 million mt by 2024-25, while gas output is expected to be 2.91 billion cu m from the contracts awarded in the previous two DSF rounds.

India depends 85% on imports to meet its domestic oil demand.

India, the world's third-biggest crude importer and consumer, has been pursuing a policy to promote domestic oil and gas production for the last seven years through a host of investor-friendly policy initiatives aimed to cut its import dependence to meet energy demand.

India's energy consumption is one-third of global levels, Puri said, highlighting the scope for greater appetite for energy to sustain the growth process of the world's one of the fastest-growing economies.

The DSF policy is based on a revenue-sharing model, a single license for hydrocarbon resources, no cess, full gas pricing freedom, and no riders for foreign companies/joint ventures.

India's undiscovered conventional hydrocarbon resources at around 230 billion boe, according to the oil ministry.