Delusion reigns at IOC over stake in Elfآ’s Iranian concession

Vol 3, PW 23 (08 Dec 99) People & Policy

Once again Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is allowing reports to circulate which have more to do with mythical delusion than any basis in reality.

On Wednesday (24th November) the Press Trust of India news agency, quoting unattributed IOC sources, said Elf Aquitaine of France is ready to grant IOC a 35% stake in the Balal oilfield in Iran. The report said, Elf had shown readiness to take IOC as a partner in the Balal project and that IOC already, had a preliminary round of talks with the French company and soon a high-level delegation would go to Balal for finalising details.

The story was later reproduced by Reuters news agency and flashed world-wide. The report is false, theres nothing in it, said Thomas Saunders, a press spokesman for Elf Aquitaine in Paris, when contacted by this report.

He adds: As in other parts of the world, companies often express a desire to take an interest in different fields where Elf is the operator and ask if they can make a proposal. This was the case with IOC.

They have made a proposal to take an interest in the Balal field in Iran. So have other companies and Elf is currently studying all proposals.

Readers of Petrowatch will remember that this is not the first time IOC has issued misleading information over its alleged partnership with Elf at Balal. In July this year, we reported a similar denial from Elf over claims that it was about to include IOC in the Balal consortium.

True, IOC did once have an option to acquire a stake in the Balal oilfield. But that was last year, when Premier Oil owned it.

In April this year, Premier sold its stake to Elf Aquitaine. Clearly IOC does not understand that unless you act fast, opportunities have a habit of slipping away.