State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and gas utility GAIL India Ltd are in talks to buy a part of Exxon MObil Corp's stake in Kazakhstan's Kashagan oilfield.
"We are definitely interested but it is too early to say anything. We are working on it," GAIL chairman B C Tripathi told PTI in New Delhi.
While Tripathi refused to say how much of Exxon's stake in Kashagan were the two state-run companies looking to acquire, sources privy to the development said the duo may be eyeing at least half of 16.8 per cent interest of Exxon.
Kashagan, operated by Italy's Eni, is expected to produce 300,000 barrels of oil per day (about 15 million tonnes a year) by 2014.
Kazakhstan's KazMunaiGas, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, Total SA of France and ENI SpA each own 16.81 per cent in Kashagan field in Caspian Sea while ConocoPhillips and Japan's Inpex Corp hold 8.4 per cent and 7.56 per cent, respectively.
Sources said ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of state explorer, and GAIL have made a non-biding offer showing interest in acquiring Exxon's stake.
The final bid, which may run into few billion dollars, would be made after due diligence.
The investment would have be first vetted by an Empowered Committee of Secretaries and finally by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
Kashagan, one of the world's largest oil finds in more than 40 years, is to start commercial production from the first phase by the end of 2012.
The field lies in the northern part of the Caspian Sea.
India is the world's fourth-largest oil importer and is scouting for oil and gas assets abroad to cut its dependence on foreign oil, which meets some 79 per cent of its needs.
In April, ONGC Videsh Limited acquired 25 per cent of the Satpayev oil block in Kazakhstan.