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India's Oil Diplomacy Brings in Over 12 Global Firms

Source: Tehran Times 9/4/2006, Location: Asia

The 'silent' oil diplomacy of Petroleum Minister Murli Deora has for the first time brought over two dozen global energy firms including likes of Chevron, Total and BP to Indian oil and gas exploration scene with most of them likely to bid in the latest offering of 55 blocks.

"Many globally renowned oil and gas companies have bought data packages of blocks offered under NELP-VI round. We have done lot of work (of familiarization of Indian geology to MNCs) and I hope this round will see big names coming," Doordarshan News said here quoting Deora.

Energy giants had stayed away from the previous five rounds of oil and gas blocks offering under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) but this time around, Deora, who is known for avoiding foreign travels, made it a point to attend promotional roadshows in the U.S. and UK and was invited to the elite 'Petroleum Club' of the U.S.

Director General of Hydrocarbons V K Sibal said 43 companies including 28 foreign have bought data worth Rs 70.47 crore since the bids opened on February 28.

Among the firms, which bought the data include ENI of Italy, Cairn Energy of the UK, BHP Billiton, BG Group of UK, Shell, Petronas of Malaysia, Conoco Phillips of U.S., BP of UK, Petrobras of Brazil, Total of France, Daewoo International of South Korea and Chevron of U.S., he said.

Indian firms buying block data included the usual bidders ONGC, Reliance, GAIL and new entrant Reliance Natural Resources Ltd of the Anil Ambani Group. Bids for the 55 blocks -- 24 in deep sea, 6 in shallow offshore and 25 onland -- close on September 15, he said.

Other notable companies who have bought data include Anadarko, Roc Oil, EOG Resources, Kerr-McGee Oil and Gas of Mexico, Niko Resources of Canada, Tullow Oil of UK, Beach Petroleum, Santos International, Premier Oil of UK, Hardy of UK, Terralliance of U.S., Australia's Oilex, Singapore Petroleum Corp, Canoro Resources of Canada, Europa Oil and Finder Exploration of Australia, Sibal said.

India, Asia's third largest oil consumer, is stepping on oil and gas exploration to lower its dependence on imports. The country's 73 percent of crude oil requirement is met through imports while it imports one-fifth of the total gas available. This is the sixth time since 1999 that India has offered oil and gas areas for exploration. In the previous five rounds, 110 blocks were awarded.

Sibal said NELP-VI offers the highest ever acreage of 3.55 lakh sq.km as well as the highest number of blocks.

The 25 onland blocks fall in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. Of the 24 deep-sea blocks, 20 are off the east coast, 3 off the west and one lies in Andaman offshore.

Four of the shallow water blocks are in the western offshore and the remaining two off the east coast.

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