Mumbai: The GMR Group, which has interests in urban infrastructure, airports, highways and energy, is talking with Malaysian oil and gas exploration company Petroliam Nasional Berhad, or Petronas, to jointly bid for oil blocks in India.
“We are very serious about our entry into oil and gas exploration as the next wave of growth is from that side,” said a senior GMR Group executive, who did not want to be identified. “We are talking to Petronas for a possible partnership and we will look at the new oil blocks up for bidding in India.” Mint could not contact representatives of Petronas. An email query sent to the company’s Indian representative remained unanswered.
The state-run Petronas owns and controls petroleum resources in Malaysia, according to its website.
The Bangalore-headquartered GMR plans to bid for the 57 oil blocks the ministry of petroleum and natural gas will soon auction. The group will also look at oil and gas exploration opportunities overseas, its executive said.
The ministry has extended the date to submit bids for the oil blocks under the seventh round of the new exploration licensing policy, or Nelp 7, to 30 June instead of the original 16 May, to give more time to bidders to finalize their strategy. The ministry expects exploration companies to initially invest at least $3.5 billion (about Rs14,964 crore) in 57 blocks. Of these, 29 blocks are on land, 19 in deep water and nine in shallow water, across a total 171,000 sq. km.
GMR Infrastructure Ltd, a holding company formed to fund capital requirements of the GMR Group’s infrastructure projects, will be responsible for the oil and gas exploration business with Petronas. In March, GMR Infrastructure incorporated a subsidiary, GMR Oil and Natural Gas Pvt. Ltd, to enter the oil and gas business.
“Our primary focus will be to bid for Nelp 7. We will also look at the refining business as a natural progression,” said the GMR executive. “If we manage to win a bid, we are confident about finding gas in a year’s time, as against the international average of four years.” Petronas always wanted to participate in the Indian oil exploration programme. It is, therefore, sensible for it to enter into a partnership with an Indian company, said a Mumbai-based oil analyst, who did not want to be named.
Other foreign oil companies, including China National Offshore Oil Corp. Ltd, BP Plc., Total SA and Norwest Energy NL have also shown interest in Nelp 7.