Anadarko shows interest in NELP-IX blocks

Vol 14, PW 18 (10 Mar 11) Exploration & Production

If you believe oil ministry officials, deepwater specialist Anadarko Petroleum will bid for one or more blocks in the NELP-IX licensing round.

Texas-based Anadarko is one of four companies that asked the DGH to extend the NELP-IX bid deadline from March 18 to March 28. “Anadarko said it needs time to evaluate the data,” we hear.

“They said they can’t take a call in such a short time as they only heard about NELP-IX during the Houston roadshow (on February 13).” Foreign explorers already in India like Cairn, BP, British Gas, BHP Billiton and Eni have all shown interest and could bid, say sources.

“Two or three new companies might also bid,” we learn. Most surprising is interest from the national oil companies of Kuwait and Qatar.

Kuwaiti executives have evaluated NELP-IX data in London while Qatari executives have made clear they might take a 10% stake in up to three blocks if they find the right partner. Reliance examined data from 10 blocks over three days in February at the DGH office in Noida, with interest focused on the four ultra deepwater Andaman Islands blocks, where it is expected to bid jointly with its new partner BP.

Fifteen of the 34 blocks on offer are recycled from past rounds. But this won’t deter ONGC, which is likely to re-bid for blocks it was forced to relinquish from past rounds.

Oil India is also evaluating blocks and is looking at potential alliances, chairman NM Borah tells us. So far 40 companies have viewed data in Delhi while 24 have seen data abroad.

The DGH has so far sold 20 data packages - each costing $25,000. Foreign companies have bought eight.

“Some companies buy data on the bid deadline date,” confirm DGH sources. “Until companies make up their minds, they won’t buy any data.