Hong Kong: Oil & Natural Gas Corp. and Oil India Ltd. are the leading bidder for the stake in a Mozambique gas field being sold by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Videocon Industries Ltd., said three people with knowledge of the discussions.

A deal may value the 20% holding in the Rovuma-1 offshore block at $5 billion to $6 billion, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. ONGC and Oil India, both controlled by India’s government, are bidding together for the asset.

A successful bid by the Indian group would mark the third major deal in less than a year in Mozambique by a state-backed Asian energy company, following transactions by China National Petroleum Corp. and Thailand’s PTT Exploration and Production Pcl. The acquisitions show Asian governments’ determination to secure access to gas reserves to supply some of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

Total SA, Europe’s third-biggest oil company, studied a bid for the stake and decided not to make an offer, chief financial officer Patrick de la Chevardiere said last week, citing the risk of cost overruns and project delays.

Mozambique’s Indian Ocean coast holds fields which are estimated to have enough gas to meet global demand for two years, attracting investment from energy companies in Asia, Europe and North America. Rovuma-1’s potential reserves are greater than what Libya has in proven deposits, according to data from The Woodlands, Texas-based Anadarko, the operator of the block.

Not exclusive

The Indian group’s discussions with Anadarko and Videocon aren’t exclusive, meaning the sellers could still accept a higher offer from another company, one of the people said. A deal could be announced within a few weeks pending government approvals, another person said.

ONGC chairman Sudhir Vasudeva, Oil India chairman S.K. Srivastava and Videocon chairman Venugopal Dhoot didn’t answer calls to their mobile phones seeking comment. Anadarko officials didn’t return a call made outside normal office hours in Houston.

CNPC, China’s largest oil producer, last month agreed to buy a 20% stake in Mozambique’s Area 4 for $4.2 billion from Eni SpA. The block, which neighbors Rovuma-1, may contain 75 trillion cubic feet of gas, or more than Norway’s existing reserves, according to state-owned CNPC. BLOOMBERG

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