By Ajay Modi
A consortium of government oil companies led by ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the foreign arm of Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd, is among the three groups shortlisted by US energy giant ConocoPhillips for a proposed stake sale in six Canadian oil sands assets.
OVL, along with IndianOil Corp Ltd and Oil India Ltd, had recently placed a $5-billion (Rs 26,500 crore by Monday’s exchange rate) bid for buying the stake in the Alberta oil sands assets.
“We are one of the three shortlisted,” said an official at one of the three state-owned firms, requesting anonymity. The Houston-based ConocoPhillips is selling up to 50 per cent of its oil-sand reserves in Alberta. "There are some producing assets and some exploration assets on offer," the official said without giving more details. With an aim to offset its declining output at North and South Sudans and the crisis-hit Syria, OVL had last month bought US energy firm Hess Corp's stake in the Azeri, Chirag and Guneshli (AGC) group of oil fields in Azerbaijan for $1 billion.
According to D K Sarraf, managing director of OVL, the company keeps looking at opportunities globally. He indicated North America was one of the areas that OVL might be looking at. “Wherever there is an opportunity, we certainly look at them,” he told reporters at the ongoing Petrotech 2012 event in the capital.
ONGC had signed a memorandum of understanding with ConocoPhillips early this year for cooperation in exploration and development of shale resources in India, North America and elsewhere, besides deep water opportunities off the eastern coast of India. ConocoPhillips has hired Scotia Waterous for selling stake in six Alberta properties that produce about 25,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) from an estimated 30 billion barrels of bitumen in place.
A further development of these reserves could increase production to more than 500,000 bpd. In 2010, ConocoPhillips had sold its interest in the Syncrude Canada oil sands mining venture to Sinopec for $4.7 billion.