Pema Khandu-OIL
Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu handing over the licence to OIL CGM (FB) Inderjit Baruah (left) in Itanagar. Image credit – Northeast Now

The Arunachal Pradesh government has granted Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) to Oil India Limited (OIL) for the exploration of petroleum products in seven new blocks and one for a block as an extension to the existing Jairampur block.

Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu handed over the licence to OIL chief general manager (FB) Inderjit Baruah and his team at Itanagar on Wednesday morning.

In a meeting with the chief minister last September, the OIL officials had urged the state government for early issuance of forest clearances for the identified blocks so that the environment clearance can be obtained from the union ministry to begin survey and exploration.

Baruah thanked the chief minister for fast-tracking and completing the process within a short span of time enabling the OIL to start its explorations from this month.

The exploration blocks awarded to OIL spreads across Changlang, Tirap, Lohit, East Siang, West Siang, and Lower Dibang Valley districts.

Wishing OIL the best, Khandu requested the public sector undertaking (PSU) to keep in the loop with the local administration during exploration, which includes explosions, so that people in the vicinity can be intimated in advance besides putting in place precautionary measures.

He also suggested that the PSU may adopt public utility facilities like roads, which are exclusively used by the company.

This, he said, would facilitate better cooperation and support from the local populace.

He also urged for providing services to the locals through the PSU’s corporate social responsibility activities.

Khandu further emphasized that a part of the royalties received through such projects should be utilized on the development and welfare of the local people in the vicinity.

He asked chief secretary Naresh Kumar, who was also present in the meeting, to ensure this by putting in place a robust mechanism.

“Local people of the district where such projects are developed should get first preference on the benefits from the project,” he asserted.

The chief minister was informed that exploration of each block consists of two phases – viz. initial exploration phase and subsequent exploration phase.

The exploration period of each phase is about 3 years with a provision for an additional one-year extension.

The total exploration period is for 8 years.

The grant of licence for the above-mentioned blocks would lead to a significant increase in exploration and production activities in the oil sector in Arunachal Pradesh.

In the long run, discoveries from these blocks would go towards enhancing domestic production of petroleum and reduction of import dependence of the country.

It may be noted that in order to accelerate exploration activities in the country, the government of India offered 55 exploration blocks spread across offshore and onshore areas under the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy and Open Acreage Licensing Policy Bid Round-1.

The directorate general of hydrocarbon, ministry of petroleum and natural gas, conducted bidding of exploration blocks under OALP Bid Round-1 from January 19 till May 2 last year.

Under this bidding process, the OIL bagged 9 blocks, 7 of which fall in Arunachal Pradesh.

In addition, the ministry also granted the Jairampur Extension PEL Block measuring an area of 23.25 sq km falling under Changlang district to OIL on nomination basis.

Meanwhile, the OIL officials informed that the detail project report for the proposed pipeline from Kumchai (Kharsang) in Arunachal Pradesh to OIL’s Duliajan FGS in Assam for transportation of natural gas has been completed and submitted to the state government as directed.

The proposed cross-country pipeline would cover a distance of 60 km, of which 18.85 km will be within Arunachal territory.

Once it starts functioning, the natural gas, which at the moment, is burnt off without much utilization, can be put to commercial use, earning revenue for the state government.

DAMIEN LEPCHA

Damien Lepcha is Northeast Now Correspondent in Arunachal Pradesh. He can be reached at: lepcharaul@gmail.com