NEW DELHI: Almost one fifth of the blocks Centre alloted for the exploration of oil and gas in different rounds from 1999 to the local and international firms are awaiting defence and environmental approvals.
Centre in nine rounds of New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP) sanctioned 256 blocks to local and international explorers. Out of these, 52 blocks are still eyeing for clearances, which is hitting the country's plan to speed up exploration of oil and gas to lower its rising import bill.
Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas RPN Singh said, “Presently, 52 blocks awarded under various ronds of NELP bidding are pending for clearance by different organisations such as Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Environment and Forest, international boundary disputes and state governments.”
Blocks that are awaiting nods - 22 are of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and 15 are of Reliance Industrie, Australian BHP Billiton has five blocks, three of Cairn India, two of Santos International and one each of British Gas, BP, Focus Energy, ENI of Italy and Jubilant Oil and Gas
In 2011-12, the country's crude oil import bill rose 48% to Rs 672,220 crore.