India will have to wait for at least two more years to unveil the open acreage licensing policy (OALP) regime to explore hydrocarbons. This is because the pre-requisite for launching the open acreage model — the national data repository (NDR) — will take two more years to be functional.
The contract to set up the NDR has been bagged by HLS Asia (HLSA), which has foreign collaboration with US-based Halliburton Energy Services. The company was awarded the contract in March this year. It will take a year to set up infrastructure and another year to feed data into the system, said officials at DGH.
To make India a favourable destination globally for exploration and natural gas, the government plans to move to the OALP regime soon. This will enable upstream companies to bid for any oil and gas block without waiting for the announcement of bidding under the new exploration licensing policy (NELP) regime. The idea was floated many years ago when Murli Deora was petroleum minister.
The NDR would be hosted at the DGH office in Noida. The government had amended Rule 19 of the petroleum and natural gas rules to enable DGH to obtain all the data from various operators or licensees, which could be disclosed to prospective bidders as and when required under the open acreage system.
Open acreage will enable bidders to bid for blocks on offer at any time of the year. Data for the blocks will be made available to bidders through NDR. Pakistan also has such a system in place. The NDR is expected to play a much larger and significant role in the exploration and production scenario in the years to come. The NDR will also facilitate gathering of all geo-scientific data available in India under one roof so that it is easily available to the agencies that require it.