No foreign company among NELP-III winners

Vol 6, PW 17 (23 Oct 02) Exploration & Production

IT WILL BE some time before oil minister Ram Naik announces the winners of the third NELP licensing round but we can say this for sure: not a single foreign upstream company will figure on the list.

Cairn Energy and Premier Oil were the only foreign explorers that bid, but we know that neither will figure in the list of winners to be cleared by the oil ministry. Cairn bid for the 215-sq km offshore Gujarat block CB-ONN-2001/1 and two offshore Krishna Godavari blocks: the 1,100-sq km KG-OSN-2001/1 and 210-sq km KG-OSN-2001/2.

We understand the DGH has recommended the award of CB-ONN-2001/1 to ONGC and the award of KG-OSN-2001/1 and KG-OSN-2001/2 to Reliance-Hardy. It seems ONGC's work programme was much more aggressive than Cairn: ONGC bid eight wells during the three-phase, seven-year work programme against Cairn's two.

Ditto for the two other blocks: Reliance beat Cairn in the rankings. Premier bid for onland Tripura block AA-ONN-2001/1 with Indian Oil but we understand it has lost the race to ONGC.

Blame this, too, on a conservative work programme: Premier bid one well, ONGC three. Only 23 of the 27 blocks received bids.

Eighteen received multiple bids, five had only one bidder: ONGC. We believe the DGH has recommended ONGC for eight of the multiple bid blocks, Reliance-Hardy for nine and a consortium of Gujarat Petroleum, Jubilant Enpro and Geo Global Resources for one: KG-OSN-2001/3.

Geo Global Resources is an obscure, fledgling Canadian company whose 10% interest will be 'carried' by Gujarat Petroleum till the exploration phase.

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