Reliance Seeks Partners for Deepwater Blocks

NEW DELHI (Dow Jones Newswires), May 16, 2008

India's Reliance Industries Ltd. (500325.BY) is negotiating with several oil majors to bid jointly for exploration rights in deepwater blocks, a senior company executive said Friday.

India is offering 19 deepwater blocks in its ongoing auctions, for which preference will be given to bidders with deepwater exploration experience.

RIL is in separate partnership talks with Australia's Santos Ltd. (STO.AU) and Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) of the U.S. to bid for deepwater blocks, the Economic Times newspaper reported Friday, without naming sources.

"We are talking to all the big (oil) companies, because the deepwater blocks have the experience rider this time," said the executive, who didn't wish to be named.

The company hopes that by partnering with companies that have more deepwater drilling experience, it will improve the chances of winning bids.

RIL may partner with different companies for different blocks, he said.

"A bid strategy will be decided a few days before the (bid submission) deadline," he said.

India recently extended the bid deadline for the auctions to June 30.

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