India’s Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs have approved the award of operating licenses to 22 companies for exploration of 31 oil and gas blocks, comprising 44 fields.

The licenses approval for 28 onshore and 16 offshore fields were made as part of the discovered small and marginal fields (DSF) round of auction.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was reported by Business Standard as saying: “Of the 31 contract areas awarded, 14 had only single bidders and 17 had multiple bidders.”

The contract awards are expected to provide faster development of fields, helping improve the energy security of the country. Development of the small oil and gas fields are part of India’s efforts to reduce oil imports by 10% by 2022, reported Bloomberg.

Discovered long back by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Oil India Limited (OIL), the small oil and gas fields could not be monetized due to several reasons such as isolated locations, small size of reserves, high development costs, technological constraints, among others.

The winning firms are expected to monetize the estimated in-place locked hydrocarbons volume of 40 MMT oil and 22.0 BCM of gas over 15-year period.

Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) head Atanu Chakraborty said: "These fields hold potential for lot of investments in India over the next decade.”

These blocks have been awarded under revenue sharing model, and according to estimate, the blocks are estimated to generate as much as Rs464bn ($7bn) revenue.

Bharat PetroResources, a unit of Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), won licenses for four fields.

Other selected firms include Hindustan Petroleum Corporation subsidiary Prize Petroleum, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Sun Petrochemicals, engineering company Megha Engineering & Infrastructure, Hindustan Oil Exploration and state-run Oil India are among others.

Image: An Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s oil and gas processing platform. Photo: courtesy of Nandu Chitnis from Pune, India/Wikipedia.