BG Bids Again for Indian Gas Fields

BG Group will finalize a new bid in the next two weeks for acquiring a 30 percent interest in three Indian offshore gas and oil fields from Enron Corp. "We hope to present a revised bid before Enron's Credit Committee in the next two weeks for its approval," said Nigel Shaw, chief executive of British Gas India Private Ltd. BG, which had agreed in October to pay $388 million to Enron for its 30 percent stake in the Panna, Mukta and Tapti fields, had to renegotiate the terms and conditions due to the financial collapse of Enron and subsequent Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. BG's original agreement with Enron expired due to delays caused by the bankruptcy filing. "The negotiations with Enron's creditors are on. There could be a delay in finalizing the deal only for reasons not in our control," Shaw said. No mention was made of the price or the issue of operatorship of the offshore fields. ONGC has turned down BG's request for rights to operate the field. ONGC owns 40% in the Panna, Mukta and Tapti fields and Reliance Industries Ltd. owns the remaining 30%. BG's offer to buy Enron's stake in the fields was conditional on being granted the operatorship, with full control over day-to-day management.

ONGC's chairman Subir Raha earlier this week said BG's offer for a cash settlement for giving it the right to operate was "not sufficiently responsive" and offered to manage the field itself. Shaw said BG was continuing its talks with ONGC on the issue of operatorship and a resolution could emerge in the next month. "We have talked to ONGC for months and are continuing the negotiations now. So a resolution has to be there one way or the other in the next one month or so," he said.

The Panna-Mukta fields have recoverable reserves of 184 million barrels of oil and oil equivalent in gas, and the Tapti gas field has reserves of 96.3 million cubic meters of gas.