IOC looks abroad to bag stakes in oil & gas blocks

Following ONGC's recent successes in picking up stakes in foreign countries, the state-run IOC has stepped up its overseas initiatives with concrete plans to garner stakes in hydrocarbon assets and kickstart its marketing and pipeline ventures in several African and central Asian nations.

The company has started negotiations through government channels to get oil and gas blocks on a nomination basis in countries such as Mozambique, Kenya, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Ghana and Gabon. The plan includes picking up stakes in various oil and gas blocks, buying equity in local energy companies, building refineries and city gas distribution networks and operating pipelines with the help of national oil companies.

It is also looking at nearby markets for possible cooperation and joint participation. For example, in Malaysia, it is looking to partner Petronas in LNG projects and Petronas Carigali in exploration and production.

"We are constantly on the lookout to get oil in the African market to supplement the input requirement of our enhanced refining capacity," said IOC chairman RS Butola.

IOC, which owns and operates 10 refineries out of India's 20, plans to double its refining capacity by 2021-22. The overseas initiative will provide it with the necessary comfort to increase its refining capacity as that would facilitate crude oil imports of various grades.

In Gabon, IOC, in partnership with Oil India and Marvis Pte (Singapore), had already acquired a stake in an exploration block. IOC now has evinced interest to participate in future licensing rounds for oil and gas blocks.

It is also considering a similar option in Ghana, from where it has recently finalised procurement of a trial cargo of jubilee blend crude oil through spot purchase. In Mozambique, IOC is involved in negotiations for contracts on gas and LNG and has also initiated discussions with companies having equity stakes in LNG and liquefaction projects. In Sudan, the company is exploring the possibility of investment in refining and marketing sectors in lieu of commensurate allotment of discovered and oil producing blocks.

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