OIL may float subsidiary for overseas forays

New Delhi, Mar 29 | Updated: Mar 30 2007, 06:21am hrs
State-owned Oil India Ltd (OIL) and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) may shortly part ways, bringing the curtains down on their existing arrangement to jointly bid for oil and gas producing properties abroad.

Instead, the petroleum ministry is considering setting up a new entity, Oil India Videsh Ltd, as a wholly owned subsidiary of OIL. This will expedite the acquisition of oil and gas assets abroad by the company.

According to ministry sources, the two have not been able to acquire any producing oil and gas properties overseas, despite it being more than a year since they announced such an arrangement.

OIL, the sources said, has pointed out that due to the involvement of more than one company in the decision-making process, delays have crept in leading to the leak of sensitive information.

Moreover, OIL has pointed out to the ministry that it was unable to utilise its strong financial position and leverage the debt opportunity in securing oil and gas assets overseas under its existing relationship with IOC.

A senior petroleum ministry official confirmed that the existing mandate given to the IOC-OIL consortium would be reviewed soon. So far, the OIL-IOC combine has succeeded in acquiring only prospective exploration assets in Gabon and Libya, but no producing properties, he said.

These issues came up recently at a meeting in the ministry to discuss the enhancement of decision-making powers to the boards of ONGC Videsh Ltd and OIL for the acquisition of exploration acreages and producing properties abroad. It was proposed that both OIL and OVL be allowed to acquire assets without size limitations. The ministry is also considering a proposal to empower OIL on the condition that it takes along one of the navratana oil PSUs. Here, IOC will be OILs first choice to partner for an acquisition opportunity.