The government is framing a policy that will guide Cairn India’s request for renewal of contract to operate its prolific Barmer oil and gas block, as well as 27 other energy blocks, lifting uncertainty around contract extensions that forced a legal tussle between the Vedanta group firm and the government.
Cairn India, controlled by billionaire Anil Agarwal, is seeking to extend the contract to operate the oil and gas block in Barmer, Rajasthan, by 10 years after the initial 20-year agreement runs out in 2020. Cairn, which controls about a quarter of the country’s crude output, has been urging the court for several months now to force a deadline on the government for deciding on the issue. An oil ministry official said that instead of taking a company-specific decision for Cairn India, the government has decided to frame a policy that will guide the contract extension in 28 blocks, including that of Barmer. This group of 28 blocks, the official said, is referred to as the Pre-NELP ‘exploration’ blocks, or the blocks that were auctioned before the NELP, or New Exploration Licensing Policy, came into being.