ONGC Videsh may bid for Tanzanian oil blocks

ONGC Videsh Limited has expressed interest for bidding in the 4th licensing round for seven offshore and one onshore oil / gas blocks in Tanzania, keeping in mind the measures to be taken to strengthen cooperation in the field of Oil and Gas.

The matter was taken up following a communication from the Indian envoy in Dar-e-Salaam to the ministry of petroleum and natural gas regarding the public auction of oil and gas blocks in Tanzania, for which the bidding process is expected to commence in October this year.

''Tanzanian Government would prefer well known companies with good track record. ONGC, which discovered Tanzania's first gas Songo Songo in 1971, when other companies had given up prospecting in the area, enjoys a good reputation there. It is advised that ONGC/OVL along with GAIL India should interact with Tanzanian authorities for the seven oil and gas blocks,'' the communication added.

In addition to the seven deep-water blocks, two deep-water blocks (block 4/1B and 4/1C) are reserved for government where the Tanzanian Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) will be allowed to execute a different exploration approach using a strategic partner.

OVL has decided to take part in the bidding round, managing director SK Sarraf communicated back to Debnath Shaw, High Commissioner of India, adding that the company would also be keen to participate in the strategic approach along with TPDC.

The matter was taken up during the third meeting of the Tanzania-India Joint Trade Committee (JTC) held at Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. yesterday.

Tanzania, meanwhile, has appreciated the various initiatives taken by India for setting up infrastructure projects in the country, including the 200 MW gas-based combined cycle power project, wind power project and the dry port project.

India will also cooperate with Tanzania in the rehabilitation and modernisation of the Tanzania Railway system. The matter came up for discussion between D Purandeswari, India minister of state for commerce and industry and Abdallah O Kigoda, Tanzania's minister of industry and trade at the JTC,

The matter relating to the ban on export of rough Tanzanite imposed by Tanzania also came up for discussion between the two ministers. In response to the Indian request for revoking the ban, the Tanzanian side assured that the matter will be considered.

The Indian delegation also agreed to consider the Tanzanian request to establish a gemology institute in Tanzania and offered help in capacity building by training master craftsmen of Tanzania.

Both the sides further agreed to double the volume of bilateral trade in the next two years and to reduce the trade imbalance, which is currently in favour of India. The volume of bilateral trade in 2012 was $2.12 billion.

During the JTC meeting, the Tanzanian side appreciated the facility extended by India to least developed countries (LDCs) through the duty free tariff preference (DFTP) scheme for LDCs, which came into effect in August 2008 with tariff reduction spread over five years. The scheme has helped the Tanzanian exporters towards enhanced market access in the Indian market.

Tanzania's exports to India have grown from $196 million in 2008 to $526 million in 2012.

Purandeswari in a bilateral meeting with Kigoda noted with satisfaction that the Indian investments in Tanzania are steadily rising in diversified sectors such as agriculture and agro-processing, construction, financial services, manufacturing, mining, tourism, telecommunication and transport.

Between 1990 and 2013 (up to June), investment by Indian companies in Tanzania is estimated to be $1.91 billion. Both the ministers felt that there is a huge untapped potential for increasing Indian investment in Tanzania. The Indian minister raised the issue regarding high cost of resident/work permit by Tanzanian authorities.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in collaboration with the ministry of commerce and industry has organised a mega event called ''India Show'' in Dar-es-Salaam from 25 to 27 September, with the theme of 'Nurturing Growth, Enhancing Partnerships'.

The East African region is so far the largest export destination for Indian goods among all the regions in Africa.