The Mint Report for 23 February 2011

The Mint Report for 23 February 2011

Government-run oil company ONGC is considering a joint bid in the latest round of auctions for oil and gas blocks. Mint has learnt that it’s looking at teaming up with the BG Group, Royal Dutch Shell, Ecopetrol of Colombia, and Italian firm Eni.

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The bids will be part of the ninth round of the government’s Nelp-9 auction, which is offering a total of 34 blocks of which 19 are new. Put together, the area under auction amounts to nearly 89,000 square miles.

In other developments, a new rule could prompt airlines to hire more pilots and crew. Aviation regulator DGCA says it will issue new regulations that stipulate more rest time for pilots and other staff. The rules will be up for consultation soon and are expected to come into effect in three months. The DGCA’s move was prompted by the crash of an Air India Express plane in Mangalore last May. An investigation into that accident concluded the main pilot was asleep for almost a third of the entire flight.

And on the economy, the government has said it’s seriously concerned about India’s ever-growing trade deficit. The commerce ministry on Wednesday said the deficit could balloon to 12.8% of GDP by 2014. Its projection for this fiscal is 7.2% of GDP. The ministry said the rising trade deficit could in turn lead to an unsustainable current account deficit.