Pratim Ranjan Bose

Kolkata, Aug. 30

AFTER losing the PetroKazakhstan deal to Chinese National Petroleum Corporation, ONGC is now looking for some solace in Ecuador.

However, its bid for an oil-field-cum-refinery project in the country is hanging in the balance, as Ecuador is looking for investors who would take charge of developing the downstream sector as well. ONGC, for its part, is looking for a stake in a number of oil blocks in that country and is yet to promise such a wide exposure.

"The demands of Ecuador, Venezuela and Cuba are more or less the same. All are looking for investors who would not restrict their activities to the exploration and production of oil, but also take part in the development of the downstream sector as is offered by the international oil majors. This is an unofficial tag attached with the official bidding proposals," a senior ONGC official said. ONGC's problem is that promising such an exposure across the oil value chain is subject to the approval of the Petroleum Ministry, which, however, holds that the company's core competence lies in exploration and production.

"Though we are trying to project ourselves as a complete oil company having a presence in the entire energy value chain in India, we are still undecided about such a wholesome presence overseas," the source said.

ONGC was invited to bid for the development of the Ishpingo-Tambochocha-Tiputini oil-field-cum-refinery project in Ecuador by the Energy Minister of Ecuador, Mr Eduardo Lopez Robayo, during his visit to India in January this year.

The oil field, which is estimated to have 909 barrels of reserve, is located in that country's eastern Amazon jungle bordering Peru. The total investment in the project is estimated at around $2.5 billion.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 31, 2005)
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