BP won't bid in NELP-III but Enterprise Oil might

Vol 6, PW 6 (22 May 02) People & Policy

BP has no plans to get into the Indian exploration and production sector.

PETROWATCH learns BP chief executive John Manzioni made this crystal clear to GAIL chairman and managing director Proshanto Banerjee when the two met in London in March. Manzioni said BP will not bid for NELP-III, but its representatives may attend the overseas roadshows planned by the oil ministry.

Manzioni told Banerjee BP's primary focus was in the Gulf of Mexico, North Sea, China and Europe. Manzioni added, however, that BP is interested in Enron's beleaguered Dabhol power project, seeing it as "an entry point" into the domestic power generation and LNG business in India.

Unlike BP, fellow British oil and gas explorer Enterprise Oil is open to investing in India's upstream sector, according to Graham Hearne, Enterprise chairman. When Hearne met Banerjee in London on 20th March he told him that Enterprise will not go solo and "if at all a decision to invest is made it will be only with an Indian partner like GAIL." Enterprise is sending representatives to India shortly to discuss the possibility of working with GAIL.

In return GAIL is pressing Enterprise for a stake in some of its assets. Enterprise is no stranger to working in India.

An earlier agreement with Indian Oil in 1993 to develop the D-1 and D-18 fields offshore Mumbai collapsed after ONGC successfully lobbied to have the assets returned. At the time Enterprise confided to this report that India was a "waste of time".

Has it now changed its mind