Libya & Cuba Next on OVL's List for Equity Abroad

Libya and Cuba are India's next targets for the acquisition of oil equity abroad. PETROWATCH learns ONGC Videsh is preparing to bid in the recently announced fourth exploration round where Libya is offering 15 blocks. OVL will not bid alone and is planning to include Oil India, in line with oil ministry directives.

We also understand OVL has an understanding with Dubai-based Al-Thani Corporation to bid jointly in the Libyan round. A source tells us Al-Thani has convinced OVL it has access to substantially more data on the Libyan blocks on offer than other companies. OVL is keen to increase its presence in North Africa, particularly in Libya, where it already has 49% stake in exploration blocks NC-188 and NC-189, where Turkey's state-owned oil company is the operator.

Block NC-188 (Area: 6558-sq km) is located in the Ghadames Basin. Five exploratory wells drilled in the block show the presence of oil and gas and two have oil discoveries. Block NC-189 (Area: 2088-sq km) is in the Sirte Basin, which has well-established infrastructure. Both basins have producing oil and gas fields.

In Cuba, OVL is interested in three deepwater blocks and is preparing to submit an offer. It has already paid $512,000 for the data packages. "The Cuban opportunity is a high risk, high reward venture," reveals a source. "For this reason OVL wants to take along other state-owned oil companies."

OVL's interest in Libya and Cuba follows a spate of recent overseas acquisitions. On August 30th OVL announced the purchase of 55% in offshore Australia exploration block WA-306-P from Antrim Energy of Canada. This block holds estimated 500m barrels recoverable oil. On September 3rd, OVL announced it had acquired a 30% stake in block CI-112 offshore Ivory Coast, with another 10% held by Oil India.

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