India Govt Exec Confirms ONGC to Get 24 E&P Blocks

NEW DELHI, Nov 26, 2006 (Dow Jones Newswires)

An Indian government official Thursday confirmed state-run petroleum exploration company Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (500312.BY) will be awarded 24 exploration and production blocks by the government, while Reliance Industries Ltd. (500325.BY) will be awarded seven blocks in the latest round of bidding.

"Of the 24 blocks to be awarded to ONGC, 12 are deep water blocks, 10 are onland blocks, while 2 blocks are in shallow water," said the official, who didn't want to be identified.

He said seven blocks will be awarded to Reliance Industries Ltd.

"All the blocks awarded to Reliance Industries are deep water blocks."

ONGC had bid for 45 blocks and Reliance had bid for 18 blocks under the sixth round of the government's New Exploration Licensing Policy or NELP-VI.

The official said among the foreign bidders, Ukraine's Naftogaz will be awarded three onshore blocks, and said Australia's Santos Ltd. (STO.AU) will be awarded two blocks, both deep water.

The government had offered 55 blocks for exploration but received bids for only 52. Three deep water blocks didn't get any bids.

So far the government has awarded 110 blocks under the previous five rounds of bidding for exploration and production blocks, to boost the country's oil and gas production amid rising domestic demand.

India currently imports 76% of the crude oil it processes as current domestic crude output is stagnating at around 33 million metric tons a year.

Natural gas available for commercial sale in the country is currently about 90 million cubic meters a day, which is only sufficient to meet around 60% of local demand.

Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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