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ONGC likely to win 24 blocks in sixth round

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Reliance Ind may get seven blocks

New Delhi , Nov. 23

After a day filled with speculation on whether ONGC will emerge as a winner in the sixth round of the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP VI), the State-owned exploration and production major seems to be emerging as a winner for 24 blocks.

Reliance Industries Ltd is likely to get seven blocks.

The speculation saw the ONGC scrip dip to a day's low of Rs 845 after opening at Rs 860 and closing at Rs 845.20 on the BSE on Thursday.

The Empowered Committee of Secretaries (ECOS) comprising Petroleum, Law and Finance Secretaries is understood to have approved today the names of the companies that have emerged as first-rank bidders under NELP VI.

Of the 24 blocks likely to be awarded to ONGC, 12 are deepwater blocks, 10 are onland blocks, while two blocks are in shallow water, official sources said.

All blocks awarded to RIL are deepwater.

While ONGC had bid for 45 blocks, Reliance had bid for 21 under the sixth round of NELP (20 solo and one with Oil India).

Among the foreign companies, Ukraine's Naftogaz is likely to get three onshore blocks, while Australia's Santos may emerge a winner for two blocks, both deepwater.

Under NELP VI, 55 blocks were put on offer and bids were received for 52, of which 39 attracted multiple bids and 13 single bids.

Today's ECOS decision is likely to put to rest all speculation on whether the committee would approve awarding of the exploration and production blocks to the first-rank holders or go with the view of the Directorate-General of Hydrocarbons that though ONGC was the first-rank bidder in 16 blocks (12 deepwater and four onland) on grounds of past performance in deepwater blocks already held by them and other reasons for onland blocks, its name was not recommended.

"The blocks are likely to be awarded to successful bidders as soon as the Cabinet gives clearance. We expect it should be all over and done with by the middle of December," sources said.

Going with the DGH recommendation, the ECOS is understood to have rejected 14 bids, including those of Essar, Tap Oil (Australia), Finder (Australia), M3Nergy (Malaysia) and Niko Resources (Canada), as they did not meet the eligibility criteria.

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