New Delhi: Reliance Industries on Monday submitted bids for six oil and gas exploration blocks while Cairn India submitted offers for two out of 34 exploration blocks on offer, one onland and one offshore, in the 9th round of auction under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).

Reliance submitted bids for two deep-sea blocks in the Andaman Basin in the Bay of Bengal and four onshore blocks in Rajasthan and the Cambay Basin, the DGH, said.

Cairn India’s success in Rajasthan may have prompted Reliance to bid for two blocks in the state, one onland and one offshore. Cairn has not bid for any two exploration blocks on offer in Rajasthan.

Bids for the 34 oil and gas blocks, which include eight in deepwater areas, seven in shallow water and 19 onshore properties, close on Monday.

The Mangala oilfield in Cairn India's prolific RJ-ON-90/1 block in the Thar desert of Rajasthan is currently producing 125,000 barrels per day and the entire area where Cairn has made number of oil discoveries has the potential to produce up to 300,000 bpd (15 million tonnes a year).

India had got an investment commitment of USD 1.1 billion in NELP-VIII and it is expecting to improve that.

Cairn, known to have a knack for making discoveries in areas often abandoned by energy giants, has little interest in NELP-IX as many of the blocks on offer are old and recycled (areas where some or the other company had previously done exploration but had abandoned them as they did not find any or very little hydrocarbons), according to industry sources.

Out of 34 blocks, 19 blocks are totally new areas, 7 in deep sea, 2 in shallow water and 10 onland blocks. The remaining 15 (1 in deep water, 5 in shallow water and 9 onland blocks) are recycled blocks.

Of the recycled blocks, five are discards of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), the largest bidder in the previous eight rounds of NELP. ONGC relinquished the areas it had won in first and second round of NELP after it made no discovery.

In the eight rounds of NELP since 1999, 235 blocks have been awarded till date. This has resulted in enhancement of exploration coverage from 11 percent to about 58 percent of the Indian sedimentary basin between 2000 and 2010.

The discoveries made under NELP have resulted in in-place hydrocarbon reserves accretion of a staggering 642 million tonnes of oil and oil equivalent gas, the DGH source said.

A total of 87 oil and gas discoveries have been made in 26 blocks under NELP during this period. The discoveries have added over 640 million tonnes of oil equivalent reserves.

In the first eight rounds of NELP, a USD 11.1 billion investment was committed, but the actual investment so far has been USD 14.3 billion.

The blocks offered in NELP-IX include eight deep-sea, seven shallow water and 19 onland. The onland blocks include eight small blocks, for which the technical expertise of companies is not a criteria for submission of submit bids.

These 34 blocks cover a sedimentary area of about 88,807 square kilometres, which is 2.9 percent of the Indian sedimentary basin area.

The onland blocks fall in Assam (2), Gujarat (11), Rajasthan (2), Madhya Pradesh (2), Tripura (1) and Uttar Pradesh (1). The seven shallow water and eight deep water blocks are off the East and West Coast, but no area in the prolific Krishna-Godavari basin is on offer.

Out of 87 oil and gas discoveries made in the NELP rounds, natural gas production in Reliance Industries eastern offshore KG-D6 block commenced from April, 2009.

The 8th round, which closed on October 12, 2009, attracted an investment commitment of USD 1.34 billion for 36 blocks that received offers. Under NELP-VIII, 70 areas or blocks for exploration were offered, the biggest licensing round in India.