Enron wants out of Panna, Mukta and Tapti

Vol 4, PW 19 (25 Oct 00) Exploration & Production

A company can only take so much abuse.

And by the looks of it, Enron has taken enough. A company source confirms that Enron's vice-president international operations, Mike Stewart, and its India country manager, Larry Morse, this month informed Indian oil minister Ram Naik of the company's intention to exit the consortium that owns the Panna, Mukta and Tapti oil and gasfields offshore Mumbai.

Official reason: a change in the company's "corporate policy". Few details are available about the meeting, except that Naik appeared shocked at Enron's intention and repeatedly asked Stewart and Morse for the "real reason" behind the company's exit.

Was it local conditions Or problems with joint venture partners Enron is tight-lipped about the nature of the meeting, and its press department in Houston is under instructions not to comment. A spokesman could confirm, however, that Enron told Naik it is assessing "market interest" for its 30% stake in the fields.

Unclear is if Enron's decision to exit signals an intention to quit the exploration business in India totally. In Gujarat, Enron operates the CB-OS/1 concession and is about to embark on a three-well exploration programme.

Enron Exploration & Production (India) employs approximately 200 people. Enron insists it is refocusing its business.

Logically this would mean it plans to exit CB-OS/1. If it doesn't, we'll know the problem is not E&P, but Panna, Mukta and Tapti!