In all 14 oil and gas exploration blocks have been proposed to be relinquished by BHP, Santos, BP, BG of UK and Italy's Eni, according to Standing Committee Report on Petroleum and Natural Gas which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.
     
BHP is giving up nine offshore and deep sea blocks in Mahanadi basin for want of full defence clearance to explore oil and gas in the Bay of Bengal.
     
Santos on the other hand is giving up its two blocks of West Bengal due to maritime boundary dispute between India and Bangladesh and lack of clearance from Defence Ministry.
     
BP and BG have given up on exploration in Krishna Godavari basin because of lack of defence clearance while Eni is relinquishing an area in Rajasthan for not being granted permission for petroleum operation in Desert National Park (DNP) area falling within its block.

"The committee is dismayed to find that certain foreign companies have proposed to relinquish 14 exploration blocks due to restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Defence thereby discouraging participation of foreign companies," the report said.

Indian companies have also been affected due to delay in clearance from government agencies.

"The committee, therefore, recommend that the (Petroleum) Ministry/DGH should ensure that all the necessary clearances are obtained from concerned authorities for blocks offered for auction so that the companies which emerge successful can commence their exploration work at the earliest," it said.

The panel said there was a delay in exploration activities due to non-availability of requisite clearances from different ministries including Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) and other agencies.

"The committee notes that 73 blocks under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) for which the Ministry of Defence has not allowed activities earlier have since permitted for exploration in 64 blocks and nine blocks have been declared as no go areas," the report said.

In response to the committee's queries, the ministry said it has now been decided to take in-principle approval from all concerned ministries/department like MOEF, MoD, Ministry of Home Affairs and Department of Space for identified blocks for auction in future.

“Further, a Project Monitoring Group (PMG) has been set up in the Cabinet Secretariat for fast-tracking stalled large projects both in the public and private sectors by facilitating removal of implementation bottlenecks," the ministry told the panel.

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