Australia’s Santos is trying to give up its two oil and gas exploration blocks in the Bay of Bengal, citing delays in getting approvals to start work.

Santos’s move comes after Australia’s BHP Billiton said on October it is pulling out of nearly all of its India oil and gas projects.

Santos is Australia’s  third-largest oil and gas producer.

It was awarded the Bay of Bengal blocks close to Bangladesh border in February 2007. It “has written to the government saying it has not been able to carry out exploration in the area because of defence restrictions and maritime boundary dispute with Bangladesh,” according to the Financial Express.

Santos offered to surrender the blocks NEC-DWN-2004/1 and NEC- DWN-2004/2, the report said, despite having spent $60 million already on the blocks.

“Sources said Santos told the government that exploration work at the two blocks had to be halted after Bangladeshi authorities raised a dispute about India’s right to explore hydrocarbon reserves across the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL),” the report said.

Santos invoked force majeure from November 17, 2009 when it had halted seismic operations in the blocks.

India’s Ministry of Defence prohibited E&P activities in the block NEC-DWN-2004/1 and provided conditional clearance in respect of NEC-DWN-2004/2.

Santos was of the view that the MOD restrictions on the two blocks will not be lifted in near future, they said, according to the Financial Express.

In October, BHP Billiton abandoned all but one of its ten oil and gas explorations projects in India.

Reports said delays in government approvals were the reason.

India is planning to offer up to 86 blocks or areas for exploration of oil and gas in the 10th round of bidding coming up, the most since 1999.


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