The suggestion to prohibit companies from certain countries to operate in the Andaman offshore area came during the inter-ministerial consultations to finalize oil and gas blocks to be offered under the fourth round of New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP-IV) later this month. Besides, the ministry wanted Indian firms to lead the consortiums bidding for blocks in Andaman offshore, as majority shareholders.
The Petroleum Ministry is, however, opposed to the blanket ban and cited public sector ONGC Videsh taking 25 percent stake in a producing oil field in Sudan where the partners were Chinese and Malaysian national oil companies. Petronas of Malaysia and CNPC of China had waived off their first right of refusal to make way for OVL in the Greater Nile Oil Project.
On Indian firms leading consortiums bidding for blocks in Andaman offshore area, the Petroleum Ministry stated that a foreign firm may not be willing to give majority share to Indians since deepwater oil exploration involved huge risk capital and specialized technologies.
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