Billionaire Lakshmi N Mittal's joint venture with state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp, ONGC-Mittal Energy Ltd, has won preferential rights to bid for a Nigerian exploration block after promising to invest $2 billion in the African country's infrastructure.
OMEL has been given right of first refusal on Block 250 in return for a pledge to carry out a feasibility study into a new railroad, industry sources said.
Ten foreign and local companies were given preferential rights for 20 blocks under Nigeria's right of first refusal (RoFR) system in the country's latest bidding. Under the terms of the right of first refusal deals, bidding companies pledge to invest in new infrastructure in exchange for choice exploration blocks.
Sources said Nigeria has given China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) RoFR for at least one block, and possibly four in total, in exchange for a pledge to become a major investor in the Kaduna railway project.
China's CNOOC Ltd has RoFR on up to seven blocks in return for a $2.5 billion loan from the Export-Import Bank of China for a railroad project in western Nigeria.
Nigeria is auctioning a total of 45 exploration blocks - 11 in deep water offshore, 10 shallow water on the continental shelf, 13 onshore in the Niger Delta and 11 in inland basins.
In May 2006 auction, OMEL agreed to spend six billion dollar on building a new 180,000 barrels per day refinery, 2,000 MW power generation, and a railway running East-West across Nigeria in lieu for right of first refusal for three blocks - 279, 285 and 291.
It did not submit any bid for Block 291 but managed Blocks 279 and 285.