More than two dozen players are vying for acreage available in the latest of India’s discovered small fields bidding rounds (DSF-3), which are claimed to be the country’s largest-ever offer encompassing existing discoveries.

Bids for DSF-3 were submitted on 31 May, with more than 100 applications being received, one person close to the bid process told Upstream.

India’s state-controlled Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Oil India Limited (OIL) and private sector giant Vedanta — parent of Cairn Oil & Gas — are among the key players to have bid for multiple acreages, Upstream understands.

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

The government last year offered up to 75 discovered oil and gas fields across multiple onshore and offshore basins in a total of 32 contract areas, Upstream earlier reported.

In addition to the three leading Indian energy giants, some other key bidders include Invenire Energy, Sun Petrochemicals, Megha Engineering & Infrastructures, Oilmax Energy, Ganges Geo Resources, Joshi Technologies and Duganta Oil & Natural Gas, India’s leading news daily Business Standard reported.

Multiple contract areas

A total of 11 contract areas are located onshore and 20 are in shallow waters offshore. One deep-water contract area is also on offer, India's Directorate General of Hydrocarbons earlier said.

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

The offshore acreage is 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 ONGC and OIL.

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.

Previous DSF rounds

India over the past six years has held two rounds of its DSF acreage offerings, which resulted in the award of 54 blocks and attracted $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 for 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 for this bid round that comprised 59 discovered oil and gas fields. ONGC won five blocks, while OIL gained two.

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

Vedanta, Invenire, 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 won acreage in the DSF-2 round.

DSF-1 offering

India in 2016 launched the DSF-1 round that comprised 46 contract areas with 67 discovered oil and gas fields across nine sedimentary basins.

A total of 30 onshore and offshore fields from DSF-1 were awarded to 20 companies in 2017 — this bid round had attracted 134 bids from 42 companies, including five foreign players.

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