Bora joins board of resurgent Interlink Petroleum

Vol 12, PW 7 (21 Aug 08) Exploration & Production

Tiny Gujarat-based explorer Interlink Petroleum, the owner of two small proven oil and gas blocks in the Cambay Basin, has caught the attention of industry observers following a series of major purchases and an August 14 open offer for a wider stake in the firm listed on Indian bourses.

Interest was sparked not only by sharp gains in the share price over the past year, but also by the names behind the buying. In June this year, Vijay Misra, the former chief of staff to former ONGC chairman BC Bora, teamed up with Jit Sun Investments to promote the purchase of 1.31cr shares or 56% of Interlink at Rs16.72 a share for Rs17cr ($4m).

Interlink’s shares were trading at a year low of Rs6.70 on August 31 last year. But following the June 18 purchase by Jit Sun, a local investment arm of Singapore-based Ezra Holdings, from Sajive Nair, a wealthy investor who could not find reliable drilling partners, and who based the firm in his hometown of Vadodara, the shares spiked to a year high of Rs40.85 on July 1 this year.

This followed an open offer for another 36.82 lakh shares, or 20%, made on August 14 at Rs.17.27 each by Jit Sun.

Interlink shares are now trading at around Rs24.30 - well below the year’s high, but also above the open offer that closes on September 2. The flurry of buying activity and price changes for Interlink, with a market cap of only Rs44.74cr ($10m) on August 19 has made people scratch their heads.

Interlink owns the Baola gasfield, which produced from June 2001 to June 2004 at the rate of 12,000 cm/d, and the discovered Modhera field, which has never produced. “What do these guys knowâ€‌ asks an industry source.

Maybe a lot, says another observer. Misra was not only a key aide to Bora at ONGC; he also held the same post when Bora ran Oil India.

Interlink’s new owners appointed Bora to the board on July 31.