Jun 15, 2013

India Firms to Bid for Myanmar Oil, Gas Blocks

Three state-run Indian companies--ONGC Videsh Ltd., Indian Oil Corp. (530965.BY) and GAIL (India) Ltd. (532155.BY)--will bid for eight oil and gas blocks in Myanmar, Oil Minister M. Veerappa Moily said Friday.

The move is part of India's plans to acquire oil and gas assets overseas to meet the energy-hungry nation's growing demand, the minister told reporters. The country meets about three-fourths of its energy requirements through imports and it wants to reduce its dependence on overseas suppliers to half in the next seven years. The three companies could bid jointly or separately, Mr. Moily said. They will be competing with Chinese and other overseas firms in Myanmar, he added.

The minister's comments come as the window closes later Friday to take part in a tender for 30 unexplored oil and gas blocks off the coast of Myanmar.

Oil companies such as BP PLC, Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Total SA and Chevron Corp. have expressed interest in Myanmar's promising waters that largely remained unexplored during a five-decade-long military junta that ended in 2011.

Nineteen of the blocks are deepwater, and successful bidders for them must enter into production-sharing agreements with state-owned Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise. For the 11 shallow-water blocks on offer, foreign bidders must work with local companies.

ONGC Videsh is a fully owned unit of state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corp. (500312.BY) and it invests in oil and gas projects abroad. ONGC Videsh is looking to complete a deal it announced in November to buy a stake in a Kazakh oil and gas field from ConocoPhillips (COP).

The Indian government last month approved the deal, but it also requires the approval of the government in Kazakhstan.

"The final decision by the Kazakhstan government is expected by July 2," the minister said.

A joint venture of ONGC Videsh and Oil India Ltd. (533106.BY), also a state-run firm, is close to purchasing a 10% stake from a unit of India-based Videocon Industries Ltd. (511389.BY) in a Mozambique gas block. The deal will likely be announced in a few days, the minister said.

Source: Fox Business