India plans panel to expedite clearances for exploration blocks
BY RAKESH SHARMA
NEW DELHI--India plans to set up a panel to expedite security and environment clearances for oil and gas exploration blocks, the government said in a statement Thursday.
The federal government will set up Project Clearance Board, which will include representatives from the home, defence, environment, forest, commerce and coal ministries and infrastructure and energy-related departments.
It will meet every month to review the status of clearances.
India imports about 80% of its crude needs and is seeking to step up exploration and development of local oil and gas blocks to raise output. So far, it has offered only 68% of its sedimentary basin for exploration.
The government hasn't been able to aggressively sell its blocks to global majors due to the slow pace of regulatory approvals.
In March, it awarded less than half of 34 blocks it auctioned last year. About half a dozen of these blocks couldn't be awarded as they were still awaiting certain clearances.
A senior oil ministry official said more than 46 blocks that have been auctioned in various rounds are still awaiting clearances from the defence ministry.
Dow Jones Newswires