GSPC looks to Middle East after losing Australia bid

Vol 9, PW 22 (23 Feb 06) Exploration & Production

Gujarat State Petroleum has turned its attention to the Middle East after failing to win exploration acreage in Australias recently concluded licensing round.

GSPC, in partnership with GeoGlobal Resources of Canada and Indias Jubilant Enpro, has been pre-qualified in Oman for three onland exploration blocks. In the second week of February, a GSPC-led team was in Oman to negotiate with local authorities.

We were called by the Oman government for negotiations, we learn. We have submitted a work commitment for these blocks.

Each of the blocks measures on average 3000-sq km and, adds a source look prospective. GSPC is also interested in Qatar where, it is being pre-qualified to bid for two exploration blocks.

In Qatar, GSPC is partners GeoGlobal only and not Jubilant Enpro. GSPC is also interested in Syria, where it submitted a bid for two onland blocks in December.

In Australia, GSPCs initial optimism over two exploration blocks turned sour. On 20th October, GSPC submitted bids for blocks WO5-3 and WO5-16, both offshore western Australia in partnership with Hindustan Petroleum subsidiary Prize Petroleum, GAIL and local operator Oilex.

No official word on the bidding has been made, but we learn GSPC has lost out. Says a source: One block is going to Shell and the other to ChevronTexaco.

Both Shell and Chevron are present on neighbouring blocks. When Shell got to know that an Indian consortium is in the race they bid aggressively, we hear.

Chevrons bid was the same as ours but since it is operator on the neighbouring block it showed that this block has an extension of the reservoir in its block. An industry source says the consortium is not yet reconciled to the loss of these blocks, particularly the one likely to go to Shell.

The consortium blames GAIL for making public plans to bid aggressively, we hear. The moment GAIL said an aggressive work programme would be submitted, Shell was alerted.

Otherwise the consortium would have easily got the block.