Open Acreage Licensing Programme:
In an attempt to boost domestic hydrocarbon production, the petroleum and natural ministry launched the sixth bid round under the liberal Open Acreage Licensing Programme (OALP).
- Earlier, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the Policy framework on reforms in the exploration and licensing sector for enhancing domestic exploration and production of oil and gas.
- The Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) replacing the erstwhile New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) was approved in March 2016 and the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) along with the National Data Repository (NDR) were launched in June 2017 as the key drivers to accelerate the Exploration and Production (E&P) activities in India.
- Under OALP, companies are allowed to carve out areas they want to explore oil and gas in.
- Companies can put in an expression of interest (EOI) for any area throughout the year but such interests are accumulated thrice in a year.
- The areas sought are then offered for bidding.
- This policy is different from the past where the government identified areas and offered them for bidding.
- India is one of the fastest growing major economies in the world and the third largest consumer of petroleum products after the US and China.
- India is heavily dependent on import of crude oil to meet its energy needs.
- Net imports of crude oil have increased from 111.50 metric tons during 2006-07 to 202.85 metric tons during 2015-16.
- In this backdrop, India has set a target to reduce dependence on crude oil imports by 10% by 2022.