Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) and BHP Billiton Limited should consider forming a partnership to explore nine oil and gas blocks in India following a recent decision by the Australian-based company to relinquish the blocks, India's petroleum minister Veerappa Moily told local media Wednesday.
"We can explore an alliance between ONGC and BHP Billiton which could address their concerns and persuade them not to exit," Moily said in India's The Economic Times.
ONGC, India's state-owned oil and gas company, appeared interested in Moily's proposal.
"We can explore this possibility, they have nine blocks which we need to see and we could aid them in obtaining government clearances," ONGC Chairman Sudhir Vasudeva was quoted by the Indian daily.
BHP surrendered in October its interest in six blocks awarded in India's NELP VII bid round, in which it held 26 percent interest and GVK held 74 percent interest as well as three blocks awarded in the NELP VIII bid round in which it held 100 percent interest.
The nine oil exploratory blocks contained an estimated reserve of 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent and BHP's withdrawal was attributed to its inability to carry out exploration work in these blocks due to objections from the Department of Space and the Defence Ministry, The Economics Times said.
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