Day: November 17, 2007

ONGC Mittal under scanner in Nigeria

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ONGC Mittal under scanner in Nigeria
17 Nov, 2007, 0128 hrs IST,Rajeev Jayaswal, TNN

RIYADH: ONGC Mittal Energy (OMEL) — a joint venture between ONGC and LN Mittal group — seems to be have run into trouble in Nigeria. The new government in that country has decided to review oil block contracts awarded by the previous regime following allegations of irregularities.

According to top Nigerian officials, there are apprehensions over licences won by OMEL.

Based on the apprehensions, the company’s deals in the country are under scanner. According to official sources, the deals under review include two blocks — 285 and 279 — awarded to OMEL.

Confirming the move to ET, Nigeria’s minister of state for energy (petroleum) Odein Ajumogobia said, “We are reviewing award of blocks by the previous government. There were complaints about the procedure used in awarding some of the blocks, and we are now investigating that.”

He, however, did not specify the identity of the blocks. Official sources, however, said that the two blocks awarded to OMEL are also under review, he said.

While there was no formal confirmation about the identity of the blocks and the companies involved, industry sources said some domestic and foreign entities that obtained licences to explore oil in the energy-rich African nation through ‘back door’ may end up losing them.

OMEL had won rights to explore in OPL 279 and OPL 285 in 2005 after committing investment of $6 billion in an 1,80,000-barrels-per-day greenfield refinery, a 2,000 mw power plant and a railway line running from east to the west of Nigeria. OMEL paid a signature bonus of $50 million for OPL 285 and $75 million for OPL 279.

OMEL was given preferential bidding rights for another block (OPL 250) in another licensing round that happened just before the change in the government. The company, however, did not submit a bid for the block.

Preferential bidding rights are like the first right of refusal where the company has the right to match the highest bid for the block and bag the exploration acreage. It is understood from the sources that OMEL did calculate the political risk and opted out of the deal.


Iraq flares up on Reliance deal with Kurdish govt

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Iraq flares up on Reliance deal with Kurdish govt
16 Nov, 2007, 0056 hrs IST,Rajeev Jayaswal, TNN

RIYADH: Iraq has threatened to bar Reliance Industries (RIL) from oil deals for signing oil block contracts in the Kurdish region. RIL recently executed two production-sharing contracts (PSC) with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), covering petroleum exploration activities in the Rovi and Sarta blocks in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Iraqi oil minister Hussein Al-Shahristani said on Thursday that Iraq’s federal government does not recognise the deal. “The contracts have no standing with the Iraqi government. The companies that have signed the contracts with the Kurdish region may compromise chances of getting future contracts in Iraq,” he replied on the sidelines of the third Opec summit when asked about the RIL oil deals.

The oil deals seem to have angered Baghdad, which opposes a unilateral crude oil block selloff in the absence of a national oil law. The federal government of Iraq had urged the regional government of Kurdistan against signing an oil deal till the new national oil law was passed in Iraq Parliament.

Reacting to the development, RIL said its agreement with the autonomous KRG conformed to law. “The two exploration blocks in northern Iraq in Kurdistan region, for which we have signed the agreement, are within the legal framework,” RIL said in a statement issued here.

“RIL has always maintained highest cordial relationship with the government of Iraq and all other stakeholders in the countries where we operate. We will continue to do so in future,” the statement said.

Al-Shahristani said any independent deal with KRG would face difficulty in exporting oil from the region as Iraq would not allow its oil to be exported. Kurdistan lies in the north of Iraq and does not have a port for export of oil. Companies producing oil in the region have to necessarily go to southern ports that come under the administrative control of the federal government of Iraq.

On November 8, RIL announced it had executed two contracts with KRG covering petroleum exploration activities in the Rovi and Sarta blocks. Under the terms of the contract, Reliance Exploration & Production DMCC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of RIL, would serve as the operator. The blocks measuring 450-500 sq km are highly prospective and have almost 80% oil-bearing structure.

According to sources, RIL is likely to make a discovery soon. The company had paid a signing amount of $15.5-17.5 million for the blocks. While announcing the deal, RIL president (international operations) Atul Chandra had said, “We are pleased to reach an agreement with the KRG on the two PSCs.

We hope and believe this will be an investment that will provide long-term benefits to all the stakeholders.” RIL has established a local office in Erbil and has undertaken extensive geological work over the past year in the Kurdistan region.