Reliance-Niko to invest $750 million in oil exploration


MUMBAI�Reliance Industries Ltd., one of the largest and most diversified business conglomerates in India, has decided to invest 34.62 billion rupees ($750 million) in its consortium with Niko Resources Ltd. for exploration of the dozen oil blocks it was recently awarded. The consortium was awarded nine shallow-water and three deepwater blocks.

The investment is to be made in three phases. The consortium will initially put in 7.92 billion rupees in the first phase, which will be spread over 3 years.

In the second and third phases, amounts of 11.30 billion rupees and 15.40 billion rupees respectively will be pumped into the venture.

The largest chunk of investment�6.64 billion rupees�will flow into the exploration of the Krishna-Godavari deepwater offshore block, covering 7,645 sq km.

�Our investments in the first phase will be for conducting seismic surveys,� a company source revealed. �We expect to spend 6 billion rupees for the exploration of the Mahanadi deepwater offshore basin.�

Of the nine shallow-water blocks awarded to the consortium, the biggest investment will go into the exploration of the two offshore oil blocks off Mumbai.

The Reliance-Niko consortium was awarded 42% of the total area allocated for the exploration round. Out of the total area of 218,185 sq km put up for bidding, the consortium got 90,810 sq km.

Public-sector oil companies were awarded another 117,575 sq km, while Cairn Energy PLC of the UK was awarded 9,800 sq km.

The Indian government will invite bids in November or December this year for the second round of exploration contracts. Forty-eight blocks were offered in the first round, while the total number of blocks to be awarded in the forthcoming round will be 30.

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