ONGC in talks to buy PetroKazakhstan

By agencies   |   Wednesday, 29 June 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI:India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) has held initial talks to acquire PetroKazakhstan Inc., a Canadian firm with operations in central Asia, an official at the Indian company said.

State-run ONGC is also negotiating stakes in two Caspian oil exploration blocks in Kazakhstan, he said.

"We have had some discussions and we may bid for PetroKazakhstan, but so far the matter has not been put to the board," said the official, who did not want to be named.

PetroKazakhstan, which is based in Canada but has all its assets in central Asia, said it had been approached by a number of suitors wanting to buy the $3 billion company or merge with it, sending its shares soaring 17 percent.

Analysts and media reports said Chinese and Indian oil firms that are scouring the globe for petroleum assets headed the list of companies in the race for the firm.

India, which imports 70 percent of the oil it consumes, is aggressively looking for stakes in foreign projects and intensifying exploration within the country to meet the energy needs of its booming economy.

Indian firms, led by ONGC, have acquired stakes in oil and gas ventures in many countries including a 25 percent stake sold by Canada's Talisman Energy Inc. in Sudan's Greater Nile Project.

State-run Indian Oil Corp., the country's largest refiner, is also keen to take over foreign oil firms, but a senior company official said it did not find PetroKazakhstan attractive.

"As of now, IOC is not in the race. The asset looks too costly," he said.

ONGC officials said the company was also negotiating stakes in Kazakh oil and gas blocks in the Caspian region.

"We have been offered stakes in Makhambet and Satpayev blocks in Kazakhstan. We are pursuing the matter," an ONGC official said.


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