ONGC in talks with oil majors for jointly bid for blocks: Sharma

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New Delhi, Dec 13 (UNI) Country's flagship upstream giant Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) today said it is in talks with a slew of oil companies to jointly bid for blocks to be auctioned under the seventh round of New Exploration Licencing Policy (NELP).

''We are talking to many players, including some foreign oil majors and this time they are showing a very good interest,'' ONGC Chairman and Managing Director R S Sharma told reporters here on the sidelines of a conference.

He added that some of them are 'oil majors' but refused to divulge the name of the firms.

It is expected that the US-based firms like Chevron, Texaco are on its radar.

When asked on how many blocks they will bid for, he said, ''There is going to be a keen interest. We have been a dominant player and will continue to maintain our position.'' All the things will depend on the quality of database and on the basis of that, bidding strategy will be prepared, Mr Sharma said.

He, however, did not rule out the possibiltiy of multiple players for jointly bidding.

''Because of the crude prices ruling high, better quality of database available, I feel that there is going to be a very good response from others,'' he added.

He said the company may not bid for the small block under the category of Type-S which is really meant for the small investors.

The government said in order to provide small and medium E&P firms, a level playing field and compete with big operators, a new type of blocks called 'Type-S' covering an area up to 200 kilometres has been introduced for the first time.

The government has launched the seventh round of New Exploration Licencing Policy (NELP) for 57 blocks covering about 1.71 lakh sq km.

''Today we are launching the next round of oil and gas asset auctions,'' Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said here.

This time, the government has offered the highest number of exploration blocks ever, Mr Deora said. Out of these acreages, nine are in shallow water, 19 in deep sea and 29 on land blocks.

The bid for the NELP VII will close on April 11, he said adding that the government will complete evaluation, award and signing of production sharing contracts in the next six months.

Mr Deora said with more liberal terms this time, many firms such as Bharat Petroleum and British Gas, who did not participate last time, are expected to be a part of the auction this time.

UNI

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