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Suntera to exit oil and gas blocks in India

business Updated: Nov 15, 2009 21:22 IST
Anupama Airy
Anupama Airy
Hindustan Times
Suntera

Cyprus-based Suntera Resources Limited has decided to exit all the six oil and gas exploration blocks in India, where it had jointly picked up equity stakes ranging from 10 to 40 per cent along with state-owned companies—Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL).

Suntera Resources is a joint venture company of Russia’s largest gas company — ITERA and the $1.5 billion plus Sun Group promoted by Shiv Khemka.

While confirming the move, the top brass of ONGC and OIL cited “funds crunch due to economic recession” as the reason for Suntera’s exit from these oil and gas exploration blocks.

However, the managing director, Suntera India, Sudhir Kamath told Hindustan Times that this was more of a consolidation move by the company, which is presently focusing on two blocks in Nigeria where it has discovred oil and gas.

Suntera holds a 35 per cent stake with OIL and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) in OPL 205 oil producing block in Nigeria. It also has a 60 per cent stake in a gas producing block, OPL 905 in Nigeria.

In India, Suntera had picked up equity stakes along with ONGC, OIL and GSPC ranging between 10 to 40 per cent in seven oil and gas blocks in India, starting from the second round of the New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP-II) to NELP-VI.

These included six exploration blocks with OIL in Assam, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Mahanadi basin and one with ONGC in the Cambay basin, Gujarat.

The Mahanadi basin block, where Suntera had a 15 per cent stake with OIL, was earlier relinquished by all partners in 2007-08 following dry wells.

OIL has already informed the government of its interest to pick up the stakes of Sunetra in most of the blocks, a senior OIL official said. ONGC however said no decision has been taken on picking up Suntera’s stake in the Cambay basin block, where ONGC holds a 50 per cent stake and 40 per cent is with GSPC.