Offshore Wealth

Feb 01, 2008 (LBO) – An oil exploration block nearest to India off Sri Lanka’s northwestern coast has become hot property with three petroleum firms chasing after it, the petroleum ministry said. The southernmost block of the three offered by Sri Lanka in the Mannar Basin, stretching from the coast to the maritime boundary with India, had only attracted one bid when bids closed Thursday.

Block 001 which is 3,338.10 square kilometers in size had attracted bids from all three bidders: ONGC Videsh, Cairn India, and Niko Resources of Cyprus.

ONGC Videsh is a subsidiary of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, India’s largest oil and gas company.

Cairn India, is 69 per cent owned by London-listed Cairn Energy, a small oil firm compared with the global majors, but the biggest foreign petroleum operator in India, both onshore and offshore. It is concentrating on south Asia and is also doing exploration or drilling oil in Bangladesh and Nepal.

Canada-based Niko Resources is exploring for and producing petroleum and natural gas in Canada, India and Bangladesh.

Block 002 is of 3,572.08 square kilometers and attracted bids