ONGC to Bid for Cairn Energy Assets in India

ONGC will make an offer for Cairn Energy's assets in India and neighboring Bangladesh, according to a statement from ONGC Chairman Subir Raha. ONGC has been seeking to acquire oilfields internationally and in India in an effort to reduce the amount of crude that India imports from its current level of 70%. "We made an indicative non-binding bid for Cairn'sassets last month," Raha said at the end of the four-day Petrotech conference in New Delhi.

Cairn has announced nine discoveries from 11 exploration wells in India and has interests in Bangladesh's offshore Sangu field which can supply up to 300 million standard cubic feet of gas per day. Raha said ONGC was keen to acquire an interest in the Sangu field in Bangladesh and many of Cairn's fields in India. "We have bid because their assets are adjacent to ours and have good reserves. Cairn says their corporate strategy is to focus on exploration, not development, so they want to exit."

Raha said ONGC has plans to drill at least 300 exploration wells every year to add to its reserves. The company will also be increasing deepwater exploration. ONGC expects to spend 140 billion rupees on oil and gas exploration during India's 10th five-year plan that ends in 2007.