India has offered 75 oil and gas tracts to potential investors in the third discovered small fields (DSF) bid round in what is expected to be the country's largest-ever offering encompassing existing discoveries.

The DSF rounds were devised under a 2015 policy and form an important part of helping India reduce its dependence on energy imports in order to bolster its energy security.

Up to 75 discovered oil and gas fields have been offered by the government across multiple onshore and offshore basins in a total of 32 contract areas, according to the Indian Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH).

“Bid submission for DSF bid round-3 will start on 1 February 2022 and end on 15 March 2022,” it noted.

A total of 11 contract areas are located onshore and 20 are in shallow waters offshore. One deep-water contract area is on offer, the DGH said.

The onshore blocks offered are located in the Assam Arakan belt, Rajasthan, Cambay, Vindhyan and Krishna Godavari basins.

The offshore offerings are located in the Cauvery, Cambay, Kutch, Mumbai and the Krishna Godavari basins, Upstream understands.

Expedited production target

The discovered small fields offered are relatively modest finds that could not be developed economically in the past by Indian state-owned players such as Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Oil India.

“These (DSF fields) are envisaged to be put on production through expeditious efforts,” the DGH said.

Development of the fields is seen as key to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to reduce oil imports by as much as 10% during the next few years.

Potential players are allowed to bid “either alone or in a consortium of unincorporated or incorporated joint ventures”, and might choose to bid for one or more contract areas, the notice inviting offers claimed.

Previous DSF rounds

India has to date carried out two rounds of its lucrative DSF offering during the past five years, awarding 54 blocks and attracting $1.76 billion worth of investments.

The DSF policy features a single licence for conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons, a revenue-sharing model with more attractive tax rules, no up-front signature bonus, and pricing and marketing freedom to operators.

In 2019, India approved the award of 23 contract areas as a part of its DSF-2 round.

A total of 25 contract areas were offered by the DGH in August 2018, comprising 59 discovered oil and gas fields that were undeveloped.

ONGC won five blocks, while Oil India gained two.

A total of 15 contract areas were awarded to private sector players, with Ganges Geo Resources winning five blocks.

Vedanta, Invenire Energy, Bagadiya Brothers, Arch Softwares, Shanti GD Ispat & Power, Shanno Business India, Arsh Corporate Services, Keerthi Industries and Gem Petro E&P were among the other domestic players that had won contract areas in the DSF-2 round.

DSF-1 offering

India launched the DSF-1 round in 2016, offering 46 contract areas comprising 67 discovered oil and gas fields spread across nine sedimentary basins.

A total of 30 onshore and offshore fields from DSF-1 were awarded to 20 companies in 2017, with the offering attracting 134 bids from 42 companies, including five foreign players.

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