‘Hundreds’ of bids expected for oil search

‘Hundreds’ of bids expected for oil search

Houston: India’s oil ministry hopes to get hundreds of offers from contractors to drill for crude and natural gas in the country, which is now conducting its eighth round of bidding for energy assets. “More people are getting aware of our new bidding round," Vivek K. Dewangan, director of the ministry of petroleum and natural gas, said in Houston on Thursday, between meetings with potential investors.

BHP Billiton Ltd and Hess Corp. were among the oil and gas producers attending the meeting. Executives from both firms declined to comment.

India, which has held seven rounds of biddings previously, received 181 bids for 57 blocks in its most recent auction, Dewangan said.

The current round of bids, which kicked off on 9 April, will offer 70 blocks. As the number of offered blocks increases, officials hope the amount of bids will also grow proportionally, Dewangan said. Potential bidders shouldn't be dissuaded by a dispute between Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani that could affect the price of gas, he said.

In 2005, the Ambani brothers, India’s richest resident billionaires, split the business founded by their father. They have since sparred over the quantity and price of gas to be supplied by Reliance Industries Ltd from the KG-D6 field it operates.

Investors have got enthused by such a big discovery made in the D6 block. They are more interested in investing in India. If natural gas is discovered, the government will have to approve the pricing formula proposed by the producer, Dewangan said.

The government will conduct a transparent process of bidding, he said.

Rakteem Katakey in New Delhi contributed to this story.