India has launched the latest in its series of Discovered Small Fields (DSF) bidding rounds with the aim of boosting indigenous oil and gas production.

On offer in DSF III are 20 offshore blocks, 11 onshore blocks and one deep-water area across nine sedimentary basis, which cover about a combined 13,680 square kilometres.

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These 32 blocks, which were previously operated by the likes of state-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL), host 75 oil and gas discoveries with a combined resource base of 232 million tonnes (approximately 1.7 billion barrels) of oil and oil equivalent gas.

However, these discoveries were not exploited as they were deemed too small or marginal because of the fiscal terms by their prior operators, which had been awarded the acreage on a nomination basis.

"Resources don't belong to a company. They belong to the nation and the government. They cannot lie with a company indefinitely,” Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said.

Bid deadline

An online pre-bid conference is scheduled for 30 June and the deadline for bid submissions for the DSF III acreage is 31 August 2021.

There are 19 onshore, 54 shallow-water and two deep-water discoveries on offer in this bid round, which is the largest number of discoveries in any of the DSF rounds to date.

DSF I comprised 46 contract areas containing 67 fields while there were 25 blocks with 59 fields in the second round.

A total of 54 blocks from the combined 71 offered have already been awarded from the two earlier DSF bid rounds, respectively held in 2016 and 2018.

Local media reported the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons as saying this has already led to 29 field development plans being filed with a further nine such plans being prepared for submission.

Early resource monetisation

Pradhan last week called on the director general of hydrocarbons and Oil Ministry officials “to devise innovative ways for early resource monetisation, including expediting production timelines under DSF I and II”.

“We have to work at exponential speed and on a mission-mode to monetise our natural resource.”

The first field to come on stream from an earlier DSF round will reportedly be CB/ONDSF/ELAO/2016, located in the Cambay basin, onshore Gujarat, which was awarded to local player PFH Resources.

Pradhan said India’s next licensing round would not be DSF IV but one where the government will auction unmonetised large oil and gas fields held by state-run ONGC and OIL.

Meanwhile, India’s Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas on Tuesday invited comments on its draft Oilfields (Regulation and Dsevelopment) Amendment Bill, 2021.

The amendments seek to promote the ease of doing business, create opportunities for the exploration, development and production of next-generation cleaner fuels and mitigate regulatory challenges and risks.

However, anyone who wishes to make suggestions or comment on the draft will need to get their skates on as the ministry has only given them until the end of this month.