Petronas wants to bid for NELP-III acreage with IOC

Vol 6, PW 7 (05 Jun 02) People & Policy

PETRONAS OF MALAYSIA will bid jointly with Indian Oil for exploration acreage under NELP-III.

PETROWATCH learns both sides have agreed to extend by a year to December 2002 a MoU to bid jointly in India's upstream sector. This time round we understand Petronas is interested in the Krishna Godavari, Mumbai, Saurashtra, Cambay and Rajasthan basins.

IOC's MoU with Petronas expired on 18th December last year. Shortly before, IOC wrote to Petronas proposing a year's extension to "jointly evaluate the forthcoming NELP-III round." Petronas managing director Mohammad Johari B.

Dasri replied in the affirmative and Indian Oil's board of directors last month put its seal of approval to the extension "on the same terms and conditions". Back in December 1998 Indian Oil signed its first MoU with Petronas for joint bids under NELP-I and acreage overseas.

Under NELP-I the joint venture bought data packages for eastern offshore blocks KG-OSN-97/2 and KG-OSN-97/3 (both won by Reliance). It ultimately bid for KG-OSN-97/4, but this was also won by Reliance.

Undeterred, both sides decided to extend the MoU by another year to December 2001 with an eye on NELP-II. But after visiting the data room and taking a hard look at one Gujarat offshore block, it decided not to bid.

IOC's tie-up with Petronas enables it to ride piggyback into the domestic upstream sector. Said an insider: "It will provide us upstream expertise and knowledge and will help us become an independent operator in future."