Wanted: an upstream partner for HPCL in Algeria

Vol 12, PW 14 (27 Nov 08) Exploration & Production

Better known as India’s second biggest state-owned refiner, Mumbai-based Hindustan Petroleum is today scurrying around to find an upstream partner so it can bid for oil and gas blocks in Algeria.

PETROWATCH learns that Algeria’s upstream agency - L’Agence Nationale pour la Valorisation des Resources en Hydrocarbures - has pre-qualified HSPC as â€کinvestor’, not as an â€کoperator’. If HPCL wants to participate in the ongoing bidding round that closes on December 3, it must find an upstream partner already pre-qualified as an operator.

“HPCL was pre-qualified as an investor from its net worth,â€‌ says a source. “It first submitted documents in January but was asked to re-submit them in April after which it was pre-qualified.

â€‌ HPCL’s upstream division has “evaluated and shortlisted some blocksâ€‌ and is talking to operators but can’t seem to find anyone that wants bid with it in Algeria. “Ever since the list of pre-qualified operators and non-operators was announced in Algeria,â€‌ says a source, “HPCL has been trying to find a partner.

They tried their luck by talking to random companies but nobody is interested because those companies have already found investors for this year’s bidding round.â€‌ If HPCL can’t find a willing partner, it will have to forget this year’s Algerian round and prepare for the one next year.

HPCL’s interest in Algeria follows its decision to look for exploration acreage in north and West Africa and the Middle East, either as an â€کinvestor’ in bidding rounds or by â€کfarming in’. “Algeria and other countries in north and West Africa are on our wish-list,â€‌ says HPCL, which also wants to participate in the Egyptian round where seven Mediterranean Sea blocks await bids by next year’s February 9 deadline.

“We are looking for partners for Egypt also,â€‌ says HPCL.