ONGC resumes search for deepwater partner

Vol 5, PW 21 (05 Dec 01) Exploration & Production

ONGC has resumed its search for an exploration partner for six deepwater blocks it received on a nomination basis and for which it was given attractive 'NELP' terms by the oil ministry in 1999.

PETROWATCH learns that in November ONGC wrote to six or seven companies it had short-listed, soliciting interest in a partnership. "Can we resume our discussions Can you repeat your interest and can you give us the name of an authorised representative who will talk to us" was the tone and tenor of the letter from ONGC's Excom business group.

Sadly, nobody is rushing to respond. "We are happy they are back, but it is a pity they did not keep in touch earlier," was the response of one company that got the letter.

"Companies don't wait around that long for just one business opportunity." Another company went further. Its Delhi representative had "informal" discussions with ONGC chairman Subir Raha on the sidelines of an industry conference but remains non-committal: "We are awaiting a more substantial communication from them (ONGC)," he said.

"Business sentiment towards India with oil companies is low these days." Is ONGC's call a cry in the wild "There's no reason we can't talk but a lot of companies have changed their priorities." That said, anyone interested can expect to benefit from attractive NELP fiscal terms - but only if they accept the following conditions: Commitment to share profit petroleum with government of India Willingness to take up the offer of 50% participative interest singly or as a consortium Willingness to use ONGC's equipment, services and facilities and deepwater drilling rigs, if available Willingness to work as operator in an unincorporated joint venture