Saturday, May 07, 2005

India Petroleum Update

Big names in the global oil business are showing interest in the 20 oil and gas exploration blocks (12 onshore and 8 offshore, including 6 deepwater) that are up for bidding under the latest (5th) round of the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP).

"Oil majors Petronas of Malaysia, Total of France, Statoil of Norway, Talisman of Canada and BP and BG Group of UK have envinced interest in exploring oil and gas in India....The recent discoveries of gas in the Bay of Bengal and oil in the deserts of Rajasthan led Statoil, Eni Spa, BP, Petrobras of Brazil, Merlin Energy, Talisman and Total to buy data packages of several blocks on offer in the latest round....Besides the new players, ONGC, Reliance Industries, Cairn Energy of UK, Niko Resources of Canada, Gujarat State Petroleum Corp, Oil India, Gail, Bharat Petroleum and NTPC have explored investing in the blocks on offer." via Business Standard

Petronas alone could be looking at 8 blocks to bid for. Cairn Energy is planning to ramp up investment in India anyways. No wonder.

OIL and ONGC are looking at reviving over a 1000 oil wells in Assam that have stopped production, by getting foreign experts to find secondary recovery methods. The biggest explorer in the North East, Oil India Ltd (OIL) currently produces 3.2 million tonnes from Assam, which it plans to increase to 11 million tonnes in 5 years.

ONGC announced three new offshore discoveries, one South-South-West of Mumbai High in the Panna formation, and the other two in the Krishna-Godavari basin. The Panna discovery is being called "significant" but no estimated reserves have been mentioned for any of the fields.

Pipeline Update

At a meeting, the Petroleum Secretary S.C. Tripathi told ASSOCHAM that the Iran-India pipeline would become a reality by 2010. He expected one year to be spent merely on "tough negotiations". An example of this was the latest bargaining salvo by India - a refusal to pay more than $2.50 per mBtu for gas coming in through the pipeline. Iran has asked for at least $4.00.

Meanwhile it seems the Chinese are favorable to an extension of a gas pipeline from India all the way to Southern China, and not just in helping construct it. Indian Oil Minister (currently at least!) Aiyar's dream of an Asian Grid for oil and gas may need solid diplomacy and effort over the years, but at least it looks like the vibes are good.

The Daily Times presents an overview of the three pipeline proposals to get gas into India via Pakistan. Interesting because I thought the Oman proposal was long dead. (link sent by Nitin - thanks!)

Elsewhere on the Domestic Front

While ONGC's trouble with militants in Nagaland continues, it has decided to raise its own security force in Assam and Tripura. ONGC made progress on a pilot underground coal gassification project with Coal India Limited.

BPCL recieved government clearance to move ahead on the 6 million tonnes per annum Bina refinery, where Oman Oil will hold a minority stake. Work will restart after 10 years.

HPCL is now officially off the divestment list.