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US oil giants eye Indian energy sector

March 31, 2006 17:38 IST

More than 70 global energy firms, including ExxonMobil, Chevron Texaco, Conoco Phillip, BHP and Shell, lined up in Houston to have a sneak preview of India's latest offering of oil and gas blocks under the New Exploration Licensing Policy.

Of the 72 firms, which attended the Houston roadshow, 32 were from the United States. The major companies which participated included ExxonMobil, Chevron Texaco, Conoco Phillip, BHP (Australia), Anadarco, Shell, BG, Cairn Energy, Occidental, Geoglobal Resources (Canada), Western Geophysical, GS Technologies, Marathon and Seata Resources.

Intensifying its efforts to attract investment for its oil and gas exploration ventures, India has launched a road show in Houston, the oil capital of the world, showcasing its 55 exploration blocks.

The 55 blocks were showcased under the Sixth New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP VI) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora was in Houston to attend the show.

The next campaign will be in Brisbane of Australia on April 4. The first in the series was held in London on March 27. The government has initiated the NELP for accelerating the pace of hydrocarbon exploration in the country.

"The response to the roadshow was upbeat and positive as many companies have already booked data at the Houston Data Centre for NELP-VI," a government press release said.

The Houston roadshow comprised extensive and detailed presentations and one-on-one meetings with the companies. Companies like BG, Cairn Energy, ONGC, RIL shared their successful experience of working in Indian E&P sector.

The Confederation of Indian Industry made a presentation, stating its positive perception about investment climate/opportunities in India along with representations by KPMG and JP Morgan.

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora called upon the US firms to make use of the attractive investment opportunity provided by India in the form of 55 exploration blocks offered for global bidding under 6th round of NELP.

He said American companies' response in the past has not been encouraging, which should change as there has been a sea change in the policy framework and investment environment in India, the release said.

Deora said that the NELP has opened new areas and expanded the frontiers of exploration in the country.

"So far, 30 hydrocarbon discoveries have been made and in-place reserves assessed in 16 of these discoveries are four billion barrels of oil and oil equivalent gas. Some of them are world class discoveries. Despite such discoveries, India, still remains under explored or poorly explored," Deora said.

"To consolidate gains of the first five (NELP) rounds, the government has now launched its biggest round offering 55 blocks covering a sedimentary area of about 3,52,000 sq km which is 11 per cent of the total sedimentary basin area.

This lies in 24 deepwater blocks, 6 shallow water and 25 onshore blocks," he added.

The current offer of 55 oil and gas blocks comes in the midst of several hydrocarbon discoveries, particularly after the launch of NELP.

NELP has resulted not only in trebling area under exploration acreage but has also led to 30 hydrocarbon discoveries adding about in-place reserves of 515 million tonne of oil and oil equivalent gas.

He referred to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Bill, which was passed by the Parliament recently, and said that the initiative added to the stability in policy framework. He assured his fullest commitment to the transparency, speedy decision making, providing all facilitation to the companies participating in the E&P sector in particular and petroleum sector in general.

The minister also had one-on-one meeting with the ExxonMobil chairman and the CEO of Rex Tillerson. Petroleum secretary M S Srinivasan, who was also present at the meeting, said there is a level-playing field with equal opportunities for all in the NELP regime.

In his address Joe Neuhoff, director for energy and environmental industries, US Department of Commerce, extended support to the companies deciding to invest in the Indian hydrocarbon sector in general and E&P sector in particular.

He underlined that the US Government recognize growing market of India its increasing energy requirements and the stable policy framework in the context of booming economy which are encouraging signs for corporate entities.

He invited US companies to contact them for any clarifications/queries in this regard.

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