State-owned Petrobangla has now shelved its plan to launch a bidding round for hydrocarbon exploration in the country's untapped offshore blocks.
The oil and gas corporation has decided to defer the planned bidding round at least for a year. A multi-client seismic survey was supposed to be conducted by TGS-Schlumberger, the Norwegian-US joint venture (JV).
"We shall launch the bidding round as soon as we get the seismic data over our offshore blocks," a senior Petrobangla official told the FE Tuesday.
The TGS-Schlumberger JV is expected to initiate survey to assess hydrocarbon reserve potentials in the country's territorial water by this year, he said.
Petrobangla has already finalised the draft model production sharing contract (PSC) for awarding offshore blocks to the selected international oil companies (IOCs).
"We had planned to launch the bidding round by the end of this year," said the official.
The cabinet committee on economic affairs on April 24 approved awarding the job to the TGS-Schlumberger after four years' delay.
Referring to the future bid round, the Petrobangla official said the mandatory provision for carrying out 2D (two dimensional) seismic survey from the model PSC would be waived as it would be carried out by the Norwegian-US joint venture.
The exploration period for hydrocarbon in the offshore blocks will also be reduced from the model PSC as the selected bidders would find the 2D data when they would bid for the blocks, he said.
Other terms of the model PSC will remain unchanged, he added.
Officials said Petrobangla mulls a 7.5 per cent raise in gas price for the international oil companies (IOCs) to lure global players into hydrocarbon exploration in the untapped offshore blocks.
The selected bidders will also be able to export natural gas in any form -- piped or LNG -- in case Petrobangla refuses to take it first.
Some 22 offshore blocks - eight in shallow water and 14 in deep water -- are up for the forthcoming bidding round.
Bangladesh's natural gas production from local fields is hovering at around 2,700 mmcfd, against the overall demand for around 4,000 mmcfd, according to Petrobangla.
Petrobangla has accommodated recommendations from a New Zealand-based international consultant while finalising the model PSC as the country's previous several bidding rounds saw lukewarm response from the IOCs.
Many IOCs did not take part in the offshore bidding rounds in 2008, 2012 and 2016 only on the grounds of 'inadequate' data and fiscal terms, experts said.
The country currently has a total of 26 offshore blocks.
Five IOCs have active PSCs either individually or under joint venture to explore three shallow water blocks and one deep water blocks.
ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) are jointly exploring shallow water block SS-04 and SS-09.
The joint venture of Australian Santos and Kris Energy is exploring shallow water block SS-11.
POSCO Daewoo Corporation has exploration contract to discover hydrocarbon in deep water block DS-12.
The country has not offered any onshore oil and gas blocks since 1997.
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