GAIL, Petronet eye stake in Nigerian LNG projects

GAIL, Petronet eye stake in Nigerian LNG projects

New Delhi: State gas utility GAIL India and Petronet LNG Ltd are eyeing stake in liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects being built in Nigeria to secure supplies for burgeoning domestic energy needs.

Oil minister Murli Deora discussed the possibility of GAIL and Petronet picking up stake in the $8 billion LNG project at Brass in Bayelsa state in the west African country’s oil-rich Niger River delta, with Emmanuel O Egbogah, special adviser to Nigerian President in New Delhi today.

Deora also discussed, as an alternative, the possibility of their participating in BG Group’s Olokola LNG expansion on the south-western coast of Nigeria.

“We expressed interest in sourcing LNG (on long term contract) from Nigeria and discussed possibility of GAIL and Petronet joining in a LNG project," oil secretary S Sundareshan said on the sidelines of the Petrotech-2010 oil and gas conference here.

The state-owned Nigeria National Petroleum Corp has a 49% stake in Brass LNG. Total SA of France, Eni SpA of Italy and ConocoPhillips Co each hold 17%.

Nigeria, which had proven natural gas reserves of 185 trillion cubic feet, said it will consider India’s request.

Sundareshan said India also sought additional crude oil supplies from Nigeria, which plans to raise its output from 2.7 million barrels per day to 4 million bpd by 2012.

“We can easily take 3-4 million tons more Nigerian crude on top of about 13 million tons that we currently source from them," he said.

The Nigerian official was “very positive" and asked Indian government to send a letter for formalisation of a government-to-government agreement.

State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp’s (ONGC) progress on two deep-sea oil blocks in Nigeria was also reviewed at the meeting.

ONGC Videsh, which through a joint venture with steel baron Lakshmi N Mittal, is exploring for oil and gas in OPL 279 and OPL 285, stated that its minimum work commitment on the block would be completed by mid-January 2011.

ONGC Mittal Energy, the joint venture company of OVL and Mittal Investment Sarl, had promised to invest $6 billion in building either a 180,000 barrel per day refinery, a 2,000 MW power plant or a railway line connecting eastern and western Nigeria in return for two deepsea exploration blocks.

OMEL had in 2005 won rights to explore in OPL-279 and OPL-285 after agreeing to pay signature bonus of $75 million and $50 million for the blocks respectively.

Egbogah said Nigeria’s crude oil output would rise to 4 million bpd by 2012 from 2.7 million now.

Sundareshan said Nigeria had also invited Indian firms to participate in its next exploration licensing round, expected in the first half of 2011.