New Delhi: State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) Friday invited bids from private companies for handing over operations of 64 small and marginal oil and gas fields with a view to raising production. The 64 fields have been clustered into 17 contract areas that will be bid out to companies offering the highest oil and gas output on top of a pre-decided baseline production, the company said in a statement.These 64 fields hold a cumulative 300 million tonnes of oil and oil equivalent natural gas reserves, it said. The oil ministry has been unhappy with the near stagnant oil and gas production and believes giving out the discovered fields to private firms would help raise output as they can bring in technology and capital. It has been tasked by the Prime Minister to cut dependence on oil imports by 10 per cent by 2022 from the over 77 per cent dependence in 2014-15. But the dependence has only increased and is now over 83 per cent. Also Read – Maruti cuts production for 8th straight month in SepThe bidding under the production enhancement contract (PEC) follows the government decision of last year to give state-owned ONGC and Oil India freedom to induct private and foreign partners in oilfields to raise output. Initially, the oil ministry’s upstream technical advisory body the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons in 2017 had identified 15 fields — 11 of ONGC and four of OIL — that could be sold to foreign and private companies. The move could not go through because of tough resistance from the state-owned firms. Also Read – Ensure strict implementation on ban of import of e-cigarettes: revenue to CustomsThen again in October last year, the ministry wanted ONGC to concentrate on large fields as they contribute to 95 per cent of its production and leave out the rest for private firms. The government has been unhappy with ONGC over its stagnant oil and gas production and inducting partners in small and marginal fields is a way of raising output that was agreed to in a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue last year. ONGC has now invited bids from private firms which could raise output beyond a pre-agreed baseline. Incremental production will be shared between the private company and ONGC in a pre-decided ratio. The company offering the highest share to ONGC would get the contract. “Salient features of the ONGC offering (include) complete marketing and pricing freedom to sell oil and gas on arm’s length basis through competitive basis,” the statement said. The contractor will be selected on a revenue sharing basis. “The revenue will be shared on incremental production over and above the baseline production under Business-As-Usual (BAU) scenario,” it said. Contract period will be for 15 years with an option to extend by five years. ONGC invited bids under the production enhancement contract (PEC) from the interested companies who can bring in technology for raising the output. The company will hold a pre-bid meeting on September 17 and bidding will close on December 20, 2019. ONGC had previously experimented with PEC contracts for two fields but has not been able to select a partner because of receiving conditional bids. The latest PEC tender is on more liberal terms. There will be a reduction of 10 per cent in the royalty rate for additional production of natural gas over and above BAU scenario. ONGC said exploration will be permitted during the contract period including the right to explore all kinds of hydrocarbon. “Contractors will not be required to reimburse any expenses already incurred by ONGC,” it said. “Incentives shall be available for achieving production higher than the committed incremental production.” Announcing Notice Inviting Offer (NIO) seeking partners for enhancement of oil and gas production, the company said it intends to maximise recovery from the 64 fields by infusion of new technology.