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OVL, Cairn India shortlisted for Lebanon’s maiden auction

Cairn India and its erstwhile promoter Cairn Energy plc of UK are among the firms that have been shortlisted to bid for Lebanon's maiden auction of exploration licences for offshore oil and natural gas. This is the first time that the two firms will be in direct competition since the Indian unit was bought by mining billionaire Anil Agarwal-owned Vedanta Resources.

Cairn India and Cairn Energy are among the 34 companies qualified to bid as non-operators for up to 10 blocks being offered in the bid round. ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), is the only other Indian firm to have been qualified to bid as a non-operator.

Lebanon's Ministry for Water and Energy said 12 firms -- US giants Chevron, ExxonMobil and Anadarko, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil of Norway, France's Total, Inpex from Japan, Malaysian Petronas, Brazil's Petrobras, Italy's Eni and Repsol of Spain and Maersk of Denmark, have been pre-qualified to bid as operators of the blocks.

The qualifying criteria for an operator was companies with $10 billion of asset and currently having operatorship of at least one petroleum development in water depths in excess of 500 meters.

The non-operators pre-qualified also include Marathon Oil Corp of US, Australia's Santos, GDF Suez of France, Hungary's MOLMitsui E&P of Japan, KoGas of Korea, Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company or Kufpec, Russia's Rosneft and TPAO of Turkey, the ministry said.
While the operator would be responsible for managing the day-to-day field operations, the winning non-operatoring company would co-finance the project as well as give technical input and market the produce.

Bidding exploration in the Mediterranean Sea off Lebanon's coast, near Israeli waters where Noble Energy Inc has discovered commercial quantities of gas, may take place on December 10.

Lebanon has opened offshore blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 9 for exploration, and may make available a total of 10 blocks, including some in areas contested by neighboring Israel.

The ministry said it aims to complete the award of the blocks by February next year.
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