India Govt Confirms 69 Bids for 20 New Oil, Gas Blocks

May 31, 2005 (Dow Jones Commodities News Select via Comtex) -- By Himendra Kumar Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW DELHI (Dow Jones)

The Indian government Tuesday confirmed that it has received 69 bids from various international and domestic companies for 20 new domestic oil and gas exploration blocks.

"Eighteen bids for six deepwater blocks, seven bids for two shallow water blocks and 44 bids for 12 onshore blocks were received," Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told a news conference.

A total of 26 foreign companies and 21 Indian companies have submitted their bids, said the minister.

Foreign bidders include Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd (PET.YY), or Petronas, Brazil's Petrobras SA (PBR), the U.K.'s BP PLC (BP) and Cairn Energy PLC (CNE.LN), and Italy's Eni SpA (E), BG Group PLC (BGR), Canada's Niko Resources Ltd. (NKO.T) and U.K.'s Hardy Oil.

Among the India companies that have bid for the blocks include Oil & Natural Gas Corp. (500312.BY), Reliance Industries Ltd. (500325.BY), Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. (500547.BY), and Essar Oil Ltd. (500134.BY).

The minister said the successful bidders for the blocks will be announced by July 31. The government hopes to sign the production sharing contract with the successful bidders by Sept. 30.

The minister's statement confirmed what a government official told Dow Jones Newswires earlier Tuesday. (C) 2005 FWN Select. All Rights Reserved