Exxon/Chevron want Dauletabad stake for India

Vol 14, PW 25 (16 Jun 11) People & Policy

ExxonMobil and Chevron are pressing India to buy a stake in Turkmenistan’s Dauletabad gasfield, where the proposed 1700-km TAPI gas pipeline will originate before running through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India.

PETROWATCH learns “informal talks” took place between officials from all four countries on May 26 at Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan, on the sidelines of the Turkmenistan Gas Congress on May 25 and May 26. Exxon and Chevron representatives were present during the talks in an “informal capacity” as was a delegation from India led by additional oil secretary Sudhir Bhargava, joint secretary international co-operation Vivek Kumar, GAIL chairman BC Tripathi and ONGC Videsh (OVL) interim managing director Joeman Thomas.

Exxon and Chevron want to be involved with developing the Dauletabad field and in laying the proposed TAPI gas pipeline, according to a Delhi source present at the talks. “Exxon and Chevron are suggesting that Afghanistan, Pakistan and India all take stakes in Dauletabad to make the TAPI project more robust and stable,” he says.

Still unclear is Afghanistan and Pakistan’s response to the proposal, but Indian officials are enthusiastic about the prospect of an Indian ‘farm-in’ to Dauletabad, possibly through ONGC Videsh. Turkmenistan is undoubtedly keen to attract investment to Dauletabad, as it cannot fund the field’s development alone, say Indian officials.

But our source adds that Dauletabad ‘farm-in’ talks are at a “preliminary stage” because even Turkmenistan doesn’t know how much money is needed to develop the field. No one can deny Dauletabad is an attractive prize.

In 2005, TAPI project promoter Manila-based Asian Development Bank estimated the field holds around 49.5-tcf of in-place gas. India would be ready to pick up between a 5% to 10% stake in the field, suggests an official.