India plans to ease foreign investment in oil, gas sector

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With foreign investment almost drying up in India's oil and gas sector, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today promised an overhaul to make policies predictable, transparent and fair to investors.

Three years of policy paralysis and regulatory policy uncertainty over issues such as natural gas pricing had led to companies deferring their investments, resulting in domestic production stagnating.

In his opening remarks at the ministerial session of the World Petroleum Congress in Moscow today, Pradhan said the Narendra Modi government "intends to bring in policies which would ease the way for large foreign investments in the oil and gas sector."

Stating that there was an urgent need to facilitate an increase in oil and gas production, Pradhan said his ministry was in the process of ushering in a new exploration and production policy after amending the existing New Exploration Licencing Policy (NELP).

"The priority of the government led by Modi would be to put in place transparent systems and time-bound delivery of government services.

"Creation of a policy environment which is predictable, transparent and fair would be a very important action. Our motto is 'Minimum Government & Maximum Governance'," he said.

The ministry proposes to replace NELP with a uniform licensing policy to facilitate production of all forms of hydrocarbons - from oil to shale gas - under a single policy regime.

The next round of oil and gas block auctions will be offered with all statutory clearances that will derisk exploration activities to some extent.

More than 1,48,000 square kilometres of exploration acreage has been identified for auction under the 10th round of NELP, an official statement said.

"India is at a critical stage of development and the new government led by Narendra Modi is giving it the much-needed impetus for further growth," Pradhan said.

India consumes about 4.5 per cent of the world's primary energy and ranks fourth globally in energy consumption, making it imperative for steps to be taken to facilitate availability of energy for every single person, thereby ensuring inclusive growth, he said.

The World Petroleum Congress, the 'kumbh' of the oil and gas sector, is held every three years. The theme of the 21st Congress, being held in Moscow from June 15 to 19, is Responsibly Energising a Growing World.

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