Pre-NELP Exploration Blocks

28 Exploration blocks were awarded to private companies between 1980 and prior to implementation of NELP where ONGC and Oil have the rights for participation in the blocks after hydrocarbon discoveries.
In 1993, GoI offered blocks for geophysical and other surveys to update the information on hydrocarbon
potential of India’s unexplored sedimentary basins. Once the surveys on these blocks were completed, they were to be offered in subsequent rounds of exploration. The second speculative survey round was launched in 1994 and the third round in 1995. The third round was called as Joint Venture Speculative Survey Round (JVSSR) with a provision of risk participation/cost sharing by DGH up to 50 %.


Brief Details of the Pre-NELP Exploration Blocks

Year Rounds Description Contracts Signed
Offshore Onshore Total
1980 1st Exploration round  PSC signed with Chevron,USA and 3 wells were drilled without success, block area was relinquished in 1985  1  0  1
1982 2nd Exploration round  No PSC signed  0  0  0
1986  3rd Exploration round  No PSC signed  0  0  0
1991  4th Exploration round  2  3  5
1992  First development round
1993  5th Exploration round  Second development round  4  2  6
1993  6th Exploration round  First speculative survey round  2  3  5
1994  7th Exploration round  2  3  5
1994  8th Exploration round  Second speculative survey round  1  3  4
1995  9th Exploration round  JV Exploration Program  1  1  2
Total 13 15 28

New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP)

After the Nomination era till late 1970s, Pre-NELP Exploration era (1980-95) and Pre-NELP Field rounds (1992-93), Government of India formulated a policy called as New Exploration Licensing Policy in 1997. The main objective was to attract significant risk capital from Indian and Foreign companies, state of art technologies, new geological concepts and best management practices to explore Oil and Gas resources in the country to meet rising demands of Oil and Gas. This NELP policy was approved in 1997 and it became effective in February, 1999. Since then licenses for exploration are being awarded only through a competitive bidding system and National Oil Companies (NOCs) are required to compete on an equal footing with Indian and Foreign companies to secure Petroleum Exploration Licenses (PELs). Nine rounds of bids have so far been concluded under NELP, in which production sharing contracts for 254 exploration blocks have been signed.


The Government has taken number of measures to bring in healthy competition and public participation by the way of NELP for exploration & production of Oil & gas in the country. NELP has not only accelerated the quest for hydrocarbon exploration, but has also brought the state of the art technology and efficiency of operations /management to the country.


Government of India has signed 28 contracts for 29 discovered fields (1 PSC for Panna Mukta),28exploration blocks under Pre-NELP Exploration regime and 254 blocks under NELP regime with National Oil Companies and private (Both Indian and foreign)/ Joint Venture companies. At present, out of 311 exploration blocks/fields awarded so far under various bidding rounds (Discovered Field, Pre-NELP & NELP), 178 blocks/ fields are operational.


The awarded 254 blocks are located in onland (111), offshore shallow water (62) and deepwater (81) areas. As a result of exploratory activities, several unexplored and poorly explored areas, in particular offshore and deepwater areas have been appraised through geophysical surveys and exploratory drilling. So far a total of 140 hydrocarbon discoveries (49 Oil and 91 Gas). Most of the gas discoveries have been made in shallow water offshore (39) and deepwater blocks (46).


NELP bidding rounds have also attracted many Private and Foreign Companies in addition to PSUs. Before the NELP, a total 35 E&P Companies (5 PSUs, 15 Private and 15 Foreign) were working in Nomination and Pre-NELP regime. After the conclusion of nine rounds of NELP bidding, the total number of companies have increased to 117 (11 PSUs, 58 Private and 48 Foreign Companies as Operators and Non-operators/Consortium Partners). Major Private Companies were RIL, Jubilant and Essar. The major foreign companies were British Gas, British Petroleum, Cairn Energy, ENI, Santos and BHP Billiton.


Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) IOCL, GAIL, BPCL working under MoP&NG and their subsidiaries like Bharat Petro Resources Ltd. (Subsidiary of BPCL), Prize Petroleum Company Limited (Subsidiary of HPCL), have participated in various NELP bidding rounds and have been awarded exploration blocks in various NELP bidding rounds. In addition to central PSU, state PSU like GSPC have participated in various NELP bidding rounds and have been awarded exploration blocks.


Status of blocks under NELP

Round Awarded Relinquished Operational
Deep-water Shallow water Onland Total Deep-water Shallow water Onland Total Deep-water Shallow water Onland Total
 NELP-I  7  16  1  24  4  15  1  20  3  1  0  4
 NELP-II  8  8  7  23  8  6  5  19  0  2  2  4
 NELP-III  9  6  8  23  8  5  5  18  1  1  3  5
 NELP-IV  10  0  10  20  10  0  5  15  0  0  5  5
 NELP-V  6  2  12  20  5  1  8  14  1  1  4  6
 NELP-VI  21  6  25  52  21  2  15  38  0  4  10  14
 NELP-VII  11  7  23  41  11  4  8  23  0  3  15  18
 NELP-VIII  8  11  13  32  3  4  0  7  5  7  13  25
 NELP-IX  1  3  15  19  1  0  1  2  0  3  14  17
Total  81  59  114  254  71  37  48  156  10  22  66  98

CBM Acreages

Coalbed Methane (CBM) is natural gas contained in coal. It consists primarily of methane, the gas we use for home heating, gas fired electrical generation and industrial fuel. CBM commonly is referred to as an “unconventional” form of natural gas because it is primarily stored through adsorption to the coal itself rather than in the pore space of the rock, like most “conventional” gas. The gas is released in response to a drop in pressure in the coal.


Coal Bed Methane (CBM), an unconventional source of natural gas is now considered as an alternative source for augmenting India’s energy resource. India has the fifth largest proven coal reserves in the world and thus holds significant prospects for exploration and exploitation of CBM. The prognosticated CBM resources in the country are about 92 TCF (2600 BCM) in 12 states of India. In order to harness CBM potential in the country, the Government of India formulated CBM policy in 1997 wherein CBM being Natural Gas is explored and exploited under the provisions of Oil Fields (Regulation & Development) Act 1948 (ORD Act 1948) and Petroleum & Natural Gas Rules 1959 (P&NG Rules 1959) administered by Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MOP&NG).


CBM blocks were carved out by DGH in close interaction with Ministry of Coal (MoC) & Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI), Ranchi. Under the CBM policy, till date, four rounds of CBM bidding rounds have been implemented by MoP&NG, resulting in award of 33 CBM blocks [including 2 blocks on Nomination and 1 block through Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) route] which covers 16,613 out of the total available coal bearing areas for CBM exploration of 26,000 To date, most CBM exploration and production activities in India is pursued by domestic Indian companies. Total prognosticated CBM resource for awarded 33 CBM blocks, is about 62.4 TCF (1767 BCM), of which, so far, 9.9 TCF (280.34 BCM) has been established as Gas in Place (GIP).


The Gondwana sediments of eastern India host the bulk of India’s coal reserves and all the current CBM producing blocks. The vast majority of the best prospective areas for CBM development are in eastern India, situated in Damodar Koel valley and Son valley. CBM projects exist in Raniganj South, Raniganj East and Raniganj North areas in the Raniganj coalfield, the Parbatpur block in Jharia coalfield and the East and West Bokaro coalfields. Son valley includes the Sonhat North and Sohagpur East and West blocks. Currently, commercial production has commenced from Raniganj South CBM block operated by M/s. GEECL since July 2007.


Current CBM production (March 2015) is around 0.77 MMSCMD from 5 CBM blocks which includes test gas production from 4 CBM blocks and commercial production from 1 CBM block. Seven more CBM blocks are expected to start commercial production in near future. The total CBM production is expected to be around 4MMSCMD by end of 12th plan as per XII plan document.

SI No. State Prognosticated CBM Resources (in BCM) Prognosticated CBM Resources (in TCF)
 1  JharKhand  722.08  25.5
2  Rajasthan  359.62  12.7
3  Gujarat  351.13  12.4
4  Odisha  243.52  8.6
5  Chattisgarh  240.69 8.5
6  Madhya Pradesh  218.04 7.7
7  West Bengal  218.04 7.7
8  Tamil Nadu  104.77 3.7
9,10  Telangana/AP  99.11 3.5
11  Maharashtra  33.98 1.2
12  North East  8.50 0.3
Total CBM Resource 2599.48 91.8