State-owned ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) is in a race to acquire two out of 14 blocks being offered by Mexico in historic auctions that are part of the Latin American nation’s energy reforms—the first such sale since it expelled foreign oil firms in 1938.

OVL, the overseas arm of Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC), has bid for these shallow water blocks which are being offered by Mexico’s national hydrocarbon commission, Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos (CNH).

The auction has seen interest from Asian, Latin American, European and American firms such as Nexen Energy Holdings International Ltd, BG Group, Eni S.p.A, Total S.A, Ecopetrol, Petronas, BHP Billiton Ltd and Exxon Mobil Corp., among others. According to CNH, 26 bidders, individually or as a part of a consortium, have qualified to bid.

“We have bid for two blocks. The results will be out shortly," said a senior OVL executive, requesting anonymity. Another OVL executive, who, too, did not want to be identified, confirmed the development.

OVL’s bids follow petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s visit to Mexico in May. State-run oil companies such as Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOC) plan to source heavy crude from Latin America, refine it in India and ship the product back to those markets.

Of the 189.43 million tonnes per annum of crude oil sourced by India last year, 109.76 mt came from West Asia, followed by 34.6 mt from Latin American countries, including Venezuela, Columbia, Brazil and Ecuador.

These bids assume significance given India’s demand for energy. India follows the US, China and Russia in energy use, accounting for 4.4% of global energy consumption.

Petroleum product consumption in India has been growing. According to the oil ministry, it grew 3.14% to around 163.17 million tonnes in 2014-15.

India’s petroleum secretary K.D. Tripathi on Wednesday said the National Democratic Alliance government is encouraging national oil companies to pursue equity oil overseas.

The government is trying to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and gas imports, which account for 80% of all petroleum products and 70% of the total natural gas consumed in the year ended 31 March, according to the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants imports to be cut by half by 2030.

“The present conditions are conducive," Tripathi said.

Iran’s landmark nuclear agreement this week with the US and five other world powers is expected to keep global oil prices low. Crude oil prices in the Indian energy basket averaged at $61.75 per barrel in June, against $84.16, $105.52, $107.97 and $111.89 in 2014-15, 2013-14, 2012-13 and 2011-12 respectively.

Analysts, too, are optimistic.

“Lowering of crude oil prices the likely outcome of the Iran nuclear deal will contribute positively to the India economy, across the oil and gas value chain barring domestic upstream players," India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) said in a statement on Thursday.

Ratings agency ICRA Ltd added, “With Iran being an important crude oil producer and exporter, India has had a long relationship with Iranian oil companies, with the relationship emanating in the form of crude oil imports, shipping of crude, equity stake in Indian refineries, participation in Iranian upstream ventures, export of CNG cylinders, etc. The sanctions, therefore, negatively impacted a few companies in the sector."

OVL has participating interests in 36 oil and gas blocks in 17 countries and has set a target of more than doubling production to 20 mt by 2017-18 from the current 8.87 mt of oil and oil equivalent of gas.

According to ONGC’s Perspective Plan 2030, the company is aiming to produce more than 130 mt of oil equivalent in 2030, of which half will come from assets owned by OVL.