ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp, has been shortlisted alongside global giants like Chevron, Shell and Total to bid in Mexico's latest round of oil and gas field auction.
Mexico is offering 15 shallow-water exploration blocks in the second round of hydrocarbon auction, called round 2.1.
These blocks cover a combined area of 8,908 sq km and hold prospective resources of 4 billion barrels of oil and oil equivalent gas. Mexico's upstream regulator CNH had prequalified 36 bidders for round 2.1, industry sources said. Of these, 20 have been selected to participate individually. These include OVL and other global giants like Chevron, CNOOC of China, ConocoPhillips, Ecopetrol, Italy's ENI, Lukoil of Russia, Repsol of Spain, Shell, and Total of France.
The other 16 shortlisted to bid in consortiums. Sources said while most energy majors have been paired with smaller companies, OVL will be bidding alone in the auction. Of the blocks on auction, four are the largest: block five with 466 million barrels of oil and oil equivalent gas (boe), block 11 with 426 million boe, block four with 403.9 million boe and block 12 with 409 million boe.
In 2015, OVL was among the 19 companies and seven groups that was pre-qualified to bid for Mexico's maiden offshore oil blocks auction. It was however unsuccessful in getting any block. The pre-qualification criteria specified knowledge and experience in working in at least three shallow waters exploration and production of oil and gas or in one or two large-scale projects, which together involve capital investments of $1 billion.
According to the bid criteria, companies will have an initial exploration period of four years with the possibility of a two-year extension. They also have to drill at least one well after winning the block.
OVL has stake in 38 projects in 17 countries including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Iraq, Syria, Libya, South Sudan, Sudan, Mozambique, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam and New Zealand.
It contributes to 14.5 per cent and 8 per cent of oil and natural gas production of India, respectively. In terms of reserves and production, it is the second largest petroleum company of India, next only to its parent ONGC.