Oil and Gas Licensing Rounds Affected by Covid-19
As Covid-19 spreads its infectious tentacles ever further and tighter around the globe, it is no surprise to see the knock-on effect of the pandemic on licensing round plans throughout the world. Here is a brief summary of some announcements to date.
Bangladesh Oil & Gas Licensing Round
The Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources had planned to announce in March that the launch of Bangladesh’s next offshore licensing round – the first for eight years – would open on 15 September 2020, with a deadline for bid submissions on 10 March 2021 and the award of production sharing contracts by 26 May 2021. This has now been postponed indefinitely. The round would have concentrated on deepwater blocks thought to be prospective for gas, close to the maritime border with Myanmar. After the last offshore round, several blocks were awarded, but no wells have yet been drilled.
Lebanon Oil & Gas Licensing Round
As reported in GEO ExPro Vol. 16, No. 1 (2019), the deadline for submission of applications for the 2nd Lebanese Offshore Licensing Round was initially set for 31 January 2020. In January this deadline was postponed to 30 April 2020, and it has now been pushed that back to 1 June 2020. Award decisions are expected to be made about September 2020. The round encompasses Blocks 1 and 2 in the northern part of the Lebanese offshore, and Blocks 5, 8 and 10 in the south, close to the Israeli border.
Liberia Oil & Gas Licensing Round
The Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority opened its 2020 round qualifications on 15 April 2020 as planned, but to prevent the spread of Covid-19 the launch event was conducted via a webinar, attended only by Liberian delegates. The round covers nine blocks in the Harper Basin, one of the last unexplored and undrilled regions offshore West Africa.
India Oil & Gas Licensing Round
India’s Directorate General of Hydrocarbons has announced that, in view of the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the last date for bid submissions in the Open Acreage Licensing Policy Bid Round V will be extended, although no revised date has yet been notified. This round covers 11 blocks, eight of which are onshore and three offshore. In addition, the ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) cycles for Round VI, due to have ended March 31 and Round VII, scheduled to end July 31, 2020, will be merged, with bidding based on EOIs received by the end of July.
South Sudan Oil & Gas Licensing Round
The world’s youngest country had planned to launch its first license round in Q1 2020, with 14 blocks in the north of the country on offer. However, with uncertainty around the state of the industry post coronavirus, the launch has been deferred indefinitely. South Sudan produces 178,000 bpd but hopes to reach 250,000 bpd soon.
United Kingdom Oil & Gas Licensing Round
The UK’s Oil and Gas Authority has confirmed there will be no new offshore licensing round in 2020. It hopes that this will allow more relinquishments to take place so more areas will be available when a round is announced at an as yet unplanned date.