Chevron eyes Indian oil deals
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Chevron eyes Indian oil deals

Chevron is in talks with RIL to jointly bid on the latest blocks being offered to explore for oil and gas in India.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2006 17:31 IST

Chevron Corp is in talks with India's Reliance Industries Ltd to jointly bid on the latest blocks being offered to explore for oil and gas in India, a senior Chevron executive said on Wednesday.

The move is among several options the No 2 US oil major is exploring in a bid to expand its presence in India, a populous nation with a fast-growing energy market. The company has already agreed to spend $300 million to buy a 5 percent stake in a refinery being built by Reliance.

Chevron is also looking into collaborating with Reliance in other areas, including marketing natural gas to industrial customers and developing technology that could be applied globally, said Mike Wirth, executive vice president of the company's worldwide downstream operations that include refining and marketing.

"The exploration and production opportunities are certainly something we're interested in," Wirth said in an interview. "It's harder to ignore a billion people and a market that is large and growing in terms of demand."

Chevron did not take part in India's oil and gas licensing round last year. Reliance and state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp grabbed most of the exploration blocks on offer in that round, beating out foreign oil companies like BP Plc.

This year's licensing round -- the sixth under India's New Exploration Licensing Policy intended to promote foreign development of its resources -- appears to have drawn stronger interest from the foreign oil majors.

Indian oil ministry officials have been shopping the blocks at roadshows in cities like Houston, and the Indian oil minister said earlier this week that he expected oil companies, including Western majors, to invest up to $7 billion in the round.

"We intend to participate in the upcoming licensing round six and we're talking to Reliance about participating jointly," Wirth said. "That is not something that's agreed at this point but certainly one of the kinds of things we're hoping to do."

Chevron presently has a lubricants blending and marketing operation in India and technical and marketing relationships in the country through its Aviation and Marine fuels businesses.

The company bulked up its presence in Asia with the acquisition of Unocal Corp last year, after fending off Chinese competitor CNOOC Ltd.

Asia and the more mature United States market are among the key areas that Chevron is eyeing for refining investments in coming years, Wirth said.

"The Asia Pacific region is really where so much of the demand growth that we've seen recently (has been) and when we look into the future will be," he said.

First Published: Apr 13, 2006 10:42 IST