Hasty Exit

Sept 04 (LBO) – The government has shelved a bidding round for oil exploration until it sorts out a battle with Norwegian company TGS Nopec to buy up three years worth of seismic data.

TGS Nopec conducted seismic surveys in the Mannar Basin since 2002, with the government trying to buy back the data for ten million dollars ahead of offering it to potential investors.

The government said last week that it would be cancelling the agreement with the firm and would conduct any future seismic surveys in its waters by itself.

The company has been invited for talks to cancel the agreement, after which the government hopes to carry out another round of surveys before calling for bids from investors.

We can call for bids maybe by the middle of next year. Until we acquire the data we cannot call for bids or I would have done that by now, A H M Fowzie, Minister of Petroleum Resources, told journalists on Monday.

India and China, with whom Sri Lanka has close political and economic ties, are being offered a block each on nomination.

We have invited TGS Nopec to Sri Lanka for discussions and are offering ten million dollars to buy up all the data, w