ONGC to bid for Ecuador refinery

New Delhi: Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) will be biding for constructing a $2.5-billion refinery in Ecuador and acquiring oil and gas exploration blocks in that country.

Ecuador is looking for a partner to set up a greenfield refinery with a capacity of 200,000 barrels a day. It is currently producing 550,000 barrels of crude oil per day and exports one-fourth of it.

"ONGC has also evinced interest in bidding for some of the 11 oil and gas exploration blocks Ecuador is putting up for auction in May," Ecuador energy minister Eduardo Lopez said on the sidelines of Petrotech 2005 conference yesterday.

"ONGC has shown interest in constructing 2,00,000 barrels per day refinery in Ecuador which will cost $2.5 billion," he added.

Lopez and petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar signed a joint press communique on cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector.

Lopez said his country had faith in ONGC's technical and financial capability but added that the Indian company would have to bid for the project for which Japanese, Chinese and Norwegian companies were also in fray.

Stating that the country was considering rejoining the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), he said, "When we left OPEC in 1995, Ecuador was a small country in oil production. Now there is a reconsideration as to whether we should get into OPEC or not."

A decision on this will be taken in the next few months after evaluating benefits and demerits of such an action, Lopez said.

According to the joint statement, ONGC would provide training to geo-scientists and engineers of Ecuador in areas of petroleum exploration, drilling, production, safety and foreign trade.

ONGC would also give consultancy support to set up research and development institutions in field related hydrocarbon exploration and production in Ecuador.