`Russia not seeking stake in Imperial Energy'

Russia today denied plans for imposing any conditions like a stake for its state-run firms for approving ONGC Videsh's bid to buyout Imperial Energy Corp Plc.

''Actually our approach towards this deal is quiet liberal and if the Indian company would like to acquire Imperial Energy, we are not going to put forward any demands," visiting Russian energy minister Sergey Shmatko said on the sidelines of the India-CIS roundtable.

OVL, the overseas arm Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), was expecting that it may have to part with at least 25-40 per cent stake to a Russian company like Rosneft if it was to get regulatory approvals from the Kremlin for its acquisition of UK-listed Imperial Energy.

ONGC chairman and managing director R S Sharma said the company had the time till June 2009 to complete the deal but it will close it much before the deadline.

Industry analysts say the price which ONGC has offered is a bit on the high side in the background of a fall in the international prices of crude. OVL, however, said it will not revise its 12.50 pounds a share buyout of Imperial Energy. The acquisition values the UK-listed firm's in-place oil reserves at $2.5-3 per barrel.

Imperial, with exploration rights in Russia's Siberia region, had proven reserves of the equivalent of 920 million barrels of oil as of December 2007.

At current exchange rates, the acquisition will cost OVL about $2.1 billion or 1.4 billion pounds.