Bharat Petroleum to bid for Congo oil field

India's Bharat Petroleum plans a $350 million, nonbinding bid to acquire 10% interest in the lucrative M'Boundi oil field in the Republic of Congo.

Shirish Nadkarni
OGJ Correspondent

MUMBAI, Oct. 2 -- India-owned refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp. (BPCL) plans a $350 million, nonbinding bid to acquire 10% interest in the lucrative M'Boundi oil field in the Republic of Congo.

If successful, it will mark the company's entry into Africa. Standard Chartered PLC is financial adviser for the bid.

Sources said BPCL's board called for completion of due diligence via independent experts. Board members also want to assess the Congo's political environment and to determine ownership rights to oil extracted from the field. Other issues include pricing of the crude blend and the rights, cost, and capacity of the pipeline to transport crude.

Other Indian companies that have ventured into Africa's oil and gas sector include Oil & Natural Gas Corp.'s overseas arm ONGC Videsh Ltd., Indian Oil Corp., and Engineers India Ltd. ONGC Mittal Energy, the joint venture company of OVL and steel tycoon Lakshmi N. Mittal, also has plans for Africa.

BPCL recently bought EnCana Brazil Petroleo Ltd.'s offshore assets in Brazil. The company submitted the bid jointly with entertainment electronics major Videocon Industries Ltd. The bid was submitted by BPCL's exploration firm Bharat Petro Resources Ltd.; and an overall limit of $100 million was set on BPRL's share for bidding in the Brazilian property with Videocon.

BPCL is striving to consolidate its upstream oil and gas operations in India and abroad. In consortium with other players, the refiner has been bidding for blocks in Oman, Australia, and East Timor. It also farmed into an onshore block at Cachar in Assam in northeastern India.

BPCL also participated in the recent sixth round of bidding under the New Exploration Licensing Policy VI as well as in the bidding for two blocks in Egypt.

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