Reliance scouts for oil in Latin America, Mideast

Reliance scouts for oil in Latin America, Mideast

Mumbai: After securing exploration assets, Mukesh Ambani-run Reliance Industries is now aggressively scouting for discovered oil and gas properties in Latin America, Middle East and Far East.

Reliance, which has 12 oil and gas assets in seven countries, has till now been concentrating on exploration assets and as production from these starts it is changing gears, a top company official said.

“We are now more open to buying producing or discovered assets. Earlier that was not the case," Reliance President and CEO (Oil and Gas) P M S Prasad said here.

Reliance has oil blocks in Peru, Australia, Iraq, Yemen, East Timor, Oman and Colombia.

“Our focus is Latin America, Middle East and Far East. We are not looking at Russia, West Africa and Central Asian countries," he said.

Reliance was looking at properties which have synergy to its existing business. “Heavy oil (found in Latin America) is something good for our refineries. The focus on Latin America is just because of that."

The company’s existing 660,000 barrels per day refinery at Jamnagar and the new 580,000 bpd only for exports unit coming up at the same place in next few months are designed to process heavy crude that give good margins.

Prasad did not rule out Reliance looking at acquiring medium sized companies. Till now Reliance was averse to acquisitions. “We now have enough of exploration assets and we now want to bring a better value (through producing or discovered assets)."

“We want to go to places where we can win on merit," Prasad said.

Reliance for the first time ever teamed up with China’s CNPC to win a gas block in Peru.

Reliance Exploration and Production DMCC, its overseas arm, along with China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and Argentina’s Pluspetrol this month won rights to explore for gas in Block 155, in the southern highland department of Puno, next to the border with Bolivia.

Reliance has since April this year steadily increased its presence in the Latin American nation.

On 29 June, it acquired 10% stake in Lot 39 in northern Peru from Burligton Resources Inc. In May, it had teamed up with Woodside Petroleum to acquire 50% in Block 108 in Peru from Pluspetrol Energy SA. Of the 50% stake acquired, Reliance got 30% while Woodside Petroleum 20%.

Pluspetrol Energy will retain the remaining 50% stake.

The company also acquired 90% stake in Block 141 in Peru from Pan Andean Resources Plc in April this year.

Besides Peru, Reliance has one block in Bonaparte Basin in Western Australia, two blocks in Iraq, three in Yemen, one in East Timor and two each in Oman and Columbia.