Govt. to award new exploration licences early next year

Saturday, 13 July 2013 00:33 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Sri Lanka expects to award new exploration licences for 13 blocks in the Cauvery and Mannar Basins off its northwest coast within the first quarter of 2014 after extending a bidding deadline, a top Government official said on Thursday. Sri Lanka kicked off the second round of bids for the new exploration licenses in March with an initial deadline of 29 September. The deadline has been extended to 29 November due to delays in providing seismic data and a geophysical survey for potential bidders, the official said. “We expect to award them well within the first quarter of the next year,” Saliya Wickramasuriya, Head of the country’s Petroleum Resource Development Secretariat (PRDS) told an energy forum in Colombo. “There are some companies who wanted the data at the bid round,” he said. Six larger blocks in the island nation’s south eastern coast, with an area between 20,000-40,000 square km, are opened to be discussed, negotiated and awarded as a joint study at any time with immediate effect, he said. “The blocks could be started as soon as an operator signs with the Government on agreement of the study,” he said, adding that the joint study could also include seismic data gathering. Cairn India, a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc , has discovered gas and condensate in two of the three wells drilled in an earlier phase, though commercial viability has yet to be determined. The third well was plugged and abandoned as it encountered reservoir sands that were not hydrocarbon bearing. Sri Lanka has tried to reinvigorate oil and gas exploration efforts since the end of a three-decade war with Tamil separatists in May 2009. The island nation does not currently produce oil and spent $ 5.04 billion on imports in 2012.