We are committed to exploration in India: Cairn

Vol 6, PW 15 (25 Sep 02) People & Policy

HAS CAIRN DROPPED its plans to exit India Yes! Company chief Bill Gammell made this crystal clear last month to oil minister Ram Naik and ONGC chairman Subir Raha.

We understand Gammell clarified his company's position to Raha after talks with Naik and others at Shastri Bhawan. "I do not believe it appropriate for Cairn to formally communicate to the Indian government of any intention to sell specific assets as there is no specific plan or agreed transaction," writes Gammell.

During his meetings, Gammell was asked specifically to comment on "rumours in the press" about Cairn's intentions to sell. "I indicated that we currently had no price or proposal from any party to assess the viability of any potential transaction and that Cairn would be demonstrating its commitment to exploration in India by submitting bids in the NELP-III bid round." On 28th August Cairn bid for three NELP-III blocks (See: Story 8).

Yet Cairn has not closed all exit options. "In the normal course of business Cairn has many discussions with a variety of third parties with respect to additions, divestments, trading of assets or indeed a variety of different types of transactions in seeking to maximise value in our portfolio," adds Gammell.

"This is normal business practice for a publicly traded exploration and production company such as ourselves." What prompted Cairn's reversal of position Unmet price expectations Or because it suddenly found virtue in staying in India Most likely a mixture of both. Whatever it is, we can say one thing for sure: Cairn has for now shelved its plans to exit India.