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CCI to clear most of oil and gas blocks in two weeks: Montek

New Delhi, Feb 19, 2013, (PTI): 15:22 IST
External Affairs Minister, Salman Khurshid , Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Former Indian Foreign Secretary, Lalit Mansingh during the Abid Hussain Memorial Lecture organized by India China Economic and Cultural Council, in New Delhi on Monday. PTI Photo
The government is likely to clear in next two weeks several of 39 oil and gas fields that are stuck for want of defence clearance, said Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

The recently constituted Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) late last month considered Defence Ministry declaring 7 blocks including Reliance Industries' KG-D6 gas block and its gas discovery area NEC-25 as 'No-Go' area and stringent conditions being imposed on exploring in another 32 blocks.

"Meeting of the CCI took place (on January 30)... I am not sure about all the oil blocks (but) some of the blocks were looked at. I am hopeful that within two weeks or so, several of those would be cleared," Ahluwalia told PTI in an interview.

CCI had asked the ministries of defence and oil to sort out issues like exploration area overlapping with proposed Naval base or being close to missile launching and Air Force exercise area, within one month.

The panel, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is to then consider giving the blocks go-ahead for oil and gas exploration and production.

"In the boom time, the day we announce CCI, everybody would have said that yes this is happening. Today until those things are actually cleared people will not believe. That is the issue. I am hoping that in the next few weeks we will see some action", he added.

Officials from ministries of defence and petroleum have sorted out issues at majority of the 39 blocks.

Defence Ministry has declared 7 blocks including RIL's KG-D6, which has been in production since September 2008, and its gas discovery block NEC-25, as 'No-Go' areas for oil and gas exploration and production activities.
It imposed stringent conditions for another 32.

The CCI had asked the Ministry of Defence and the Oil Ministry to sort out differences over the seven block in one month, and for the 32 areas in three months.

Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily had recently stated that more than USD 14-15 billion investment has already been made in blocks like KG-D6 which has been producing oil since September 2008 and natural gas since April 2009.
Originally, the Defence Ministry had declared 14 blocks as 'No-Go' areas as they over-lapped or were close to proposed Naval base or missile launching range/air force exercise area.

But the Defence Ministry later relented and agreed for exploration to be permitted in 7 blocks in Mahanadi basin. One more block which was previously objected to by the Commerce Ministry too has been cleared, bringing down the number of blocks awaiting clearances from 47 to 39.

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