London: An Indian consortium said it was no longer considering making an offer for Britain’s Cove Energy, confirming the battle for the Mozambique-focused explorer is a two-horse race between Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production and oil major Shell.
India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), through its Videsh unit OVL, and GAIL India said in February they had teamed up to look at making an offer for Cove before saying on Monday, after three months of silence, that they were no longer mulling a takeover approach.
The withdrawal of the Indian consortium leaves Shell and PTT vying for Cove, with the latter currently in pole position.
PTT’s $1.9 billion, 240 pence per share offer for Cove is higher than Shell’s, although a number of analysts expect the oil major to return with a higher bid, possibly before the first closing of PTT’s offer on Friday.
At stake is access to East Africa’s huge gas resources through Cove’s 8.5% ownership of a block off the coast of Mozambique.
East Africa is set to become one of the world’s largest gas exporters supplying energy-hungry Asia, after a string of major discoveries across Mozambique and Tanzania.
Shares in Cove, which continue to trade above the offer price on investor hopes of a higher bid, were up 0.9% to 266.25 pence at 1152 GMT.