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RIL bags oil block in Oman

Last updated on: January 05, 2005 12:04 IST
Reliance Industries, the country's largest private sector oil firm, has bagged a deep sea oil and gas block in Gulf of Oman and is looking for oil assets in Qatar, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

"We have got one deep water block in Oman. The block is believed to hold crude oil and condensate reserves," a top company official said in New Delhi.

Oman had put three Gulf of Oman deep water blocks for bidding and Reliance has bagged one of them. The official refused to give details.

This is the second oil and gas block Reliance has acquired outside India. It holds a 20 per cent stake in the exploration Block 9 in Yemen, where a significant oil discovery has already been made.

The official said Reliance was on the lookout for oil and gas exploration and production properties in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and Australia.

Company chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani, along with his key aides, Nikhil Meswani, P M S Prasad and Atul Chandra, hosted a private dinner for visiting Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al Niami on Tuesday evening.

Among other things, the Reliance top brass is believed to have conveyed to the Saudi Arabian minister the group's interest in development of oilfields in the world's largest crude oil producing country.

"Reliance is on the prowl overseas. It has put in place a 'crack team' with former ONGC Videsh Ltd managing director Atul Chandra as the boss. After Yemen, Qatar is on Chandra's radar," industry sources said.

Chandra was the man behind OVL's acquisition of much acclaimed Sakhlain-I oil and gas block in Russia and a producing oil field in Sudan.

Indian firms are acquiring oil and gas properties abroad to cut import dependence. India imports over 70 per cent of crude oil of its crude oil requirement and produces just half of its natural gas requirement.

Reliance already has a 20 per cent stake in exploration block 9 in Yemen, where a significant oil discovery has been made.

Canada's Calvalley Petroleum is the operator of the block with 60 per cent stake while Hoodoil has the remaining 20 per cent.

Block 9, which is estimated to hold in place oil reserves of about three billion barrel, is 75 miles from the currently producing blocks of Nexen and TotalFinaElf, which on a combined basis produce about 250,000 barrel per day.

Oil experts said Reliance would in all likelihood target smaller acquisitions but focused and aggressive E&P players headquartered in Europe and the North America.

Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani had earlier stated that he was "looking at value-generation opportunities overseas as tools for energy security for the company and the country."

He told his shareholders that their company was aiming to achieve 30 per cent oil supply security for the 33 million tonnes Jamnagar refinery in Gujarat within the next 10 years and up to 50 per cent by 2020.

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