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. UnderOpen Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP), a bidder intending to explore hydrocarbons like oil and gas, coal bedmethane, gas hydrate etc., may apply to the Government seeking exploration of any new block (not alreadycovered by exploration). The Government will examine the Expression of Interest and justification. If it issuitable for award, Govt. will call for competitive bids after obtaining necessary environmental and otherclearances.
OALP was introduced vide a Cabinet decision of the Government dated 10.03.2016, as part of the new fiscalregime in exploration sector called HELP or Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy, so as to enable afaster survey and coverage of the available geographical area which has potential for oil and gas discovery. (Indiahas a sedimentary area of 3.14 million sq. km. comprising of 26 basins. At the end of 2012-13, about 48% of thissedimentary area remains unapprised. This includes, 65% of the total on-land sedimentary area, 22% of theshallow off-shore basin (bathymetry upto 400m) and around 49% of the deep off-shore (bathymetry beyond400m) sedimentary area. Further, it is estimated that India has exploited only 3% of its proven natural gas reservesand around 5% of its proven oil reserves.)
Till 2016, exploration was confined to blocks which have been put on tender by the Government. There aresituations where exploration companies may themselves have information or interest regarding other areas wherethey may like to pursue exploration. Currently, these opportunities remain untapped, until and unless theGovernment brings them to bidding at some stage.
What distinguishes OALP from New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP) of 1997 is that under OALP, oiland gas acreages will be available round the year instead of cyclic bidding rounds as in NELP. Potential investorsneed not have to wait for the bidding rounds to claim acreages. Successful implementation of OALP requiresbuilding a National Data Repository on geo-scientific data.
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