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Open Acreage License Policy (OALP)

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Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) gives an option to a company looking for exploring hydrocarbons to select the exploration blocks on its own, without waiting for the formal bid round from the Government. Under Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), a bidder intending to explore hydrocarbons like oil and gas, coal bed methane, gas hydrate etc., may apply to the Government seeking exploration of any new block (not already covered by exploration).  The Government will examine the Expression of Interest and justification. If it is suitable for award, Govt. will call for competitive bids after obtaining necessary environmental and other clearances. 

OALP was introduced vide a Cabinet decision of the Government dated 10.03.2016, as part of the new fiscal regime in exploration sector called HELP or Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy, so as to enable a faster survey and coverage of the available geographical area which has potential for oil and gas discovery. (India has a sedimentary area of 3.14 million sq. km. comprising of 26 basins. At the end of 2012-13, about 48% of this sedimentary area remains unapprised. This includes, 65% of the total on-land sedimentary area, 22% of the shallow off-shore basin (bathymetry upto 400m) and around 49% of the deep off-shore (bathymetry beyond 400m) sedimentary area[1].  Further, it is estimated that India has exploited only 3% of its proven natural gas reserves[2] and around 5% of its proven oil reserves[3].)

Till 2016, exploration was confined to blocks which have been put on tender by the Government.  There are situations where exploration companies may themselves have information or interest regarding other areas where they may like to pursue exploration.  Currently, these opportunities remain untapped, until and unless Government brings them to bidding at some stage.

What distinguishes OALP from New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP) of 1997 is that under OALP, oil and gas acreages will be available round the year instead of cyclic bidding rounds as in NELP. Potential investors need not have to wait for the bidding rounds to claim acreages.

Successful implementation of OALP requires building of National Data Repository on geo-scientific data.

1. Source: Hydrocarbon Exploration and Production Activities 2012-13 published by DGH

2. Source: calculated from Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Statistics 2006-07, 2010-11, 2012-13, MoPNG

3. Source: Calculated from Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Statistics 2006-07, 2010-11, 2012-13, MoPNG

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