CCI to clear 31 oil and gas projects this month: FM

CCI to clear 31 oil and gas projects this month: FM New Delhi: After clearing 5 "No-Go" areas for oil and gas exploration, the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) will this month ease stringent conditions imposed by Defence Ministry on 31 other blocks.

"CCI will meet in April. We will try to take up 31 oil and gas projects for clearance. Ministry of Defence and Oil Ministry, DRDO and others have sorted out the problem," Finance Minister P Chidambaram, whose brainchild was creation of the special committee under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to expedite clearance for large projects, told reporters here.

In all, 8 blocks including Reliance Industries' Krishna Godavari basin KG-D6 block that has been in production since September 2008, and gas discovery area of NEC-25 in the North East Coast (NEC) region, were declared "No-Go" zones for reasons like overlapping with proposed Naval base or being close to missile launching and Air Force exercise area.

The CCI in its meeting on March 21 cleared five of these blocks for oil and gas activities.

On 31 other blocks, the Defence ministry imposed stringent conditions like asking companies not to locate any pipelines or structures on sea surface in the blocks cleared for exploration and production activities.

Subsea/submerged permanent structures, if any, were to be located more than 100 metres below sea surface or outside the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)/Indian Air Force (IAF) danger zone area (on sea surface) or Naval exercise areas.

The oil industry saw these conditions as impractical and after discussions, the conditions have been substantially diluted now.

Chidambaram said three meetings of CCI have so far has taken place in which a number of oil and gas projects have been cleared.

"We have cleared several projects in the coal sector. One long pending project in the power sector (has also been cleared). We have also approved number of steps taken by the ministry of environment and forest (for approving infrastructure projects)," he said.

"I expect that another meeting of the CCI will take place in the month of April, when we have already lined up 31 oil and gas projects for clearance," he said.

The Finance Minister said CCI was serving the purpose it was created for and ministries are taking quick decisions fearing that others may take the project to CCI.

"One of the additional benefit of CCI is, the fact that the matter may come to CCI a couple of months later, is itself is impelling ministry to quickly move and take the decision," he said.

PTI