Former oil secretary GC Chaturvedi, in a reaction to the CCI clearance to 25 oil blocks, told CNBC-TV18 that the decision will boost oil exploration in the country and lure FII interest back to India.
Below is an edited transcript of the interview on CNBC-TV18
Q: Sources indicate that 25 oil blocks have been cleared- 16 oil blocks with normal conditions and nine with special conditions. What do you make of this decision by Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI)?
A: The decision will aid the activities of upstream exploration companies. In fact, the CCI had suggested the ministries concerned to consider all the aspects and try to facilitate clearing the blocks. The concerned ministries have reconciled to some of the earlier conditions, have toned down their conditions and cleared the blocks.
Q: Will this lure foreign investors to India again?
A: It will give a lot of confidence to foreign exploration companies as they can be now be sure that the government is trying to play a facilitative role.
Q: Why has the number reduced from 47 to 31 and to finally 25 oil blocks?
A: That was how it was planned. I am quite hopeful that with more interaction with each other, the ministries concerned will be able to clear more blocks.
Q: How soon will this translate into action on the ground?
A: Once the clearance is given by the concerned ministries and it is received in the ministry of petroleum and natural gas and conveyed to the concerned contractor through the director-general of hydrocarbons (DGH), the companies would start making plans for exploration and start work would within a year.
Q: Will the government be bold enough to launch the NELP (New Exploration Licensing Policy) 10?
A: There definitely will be more enthusiasm. But before launching the NELP 10, the government and the DGH will have to go over a lot of ground and the exercise includes identifying the blocks and receiving approval from all the ministries, and then putting them up for bids.