ONGC eyes Sudan oil blocks

Mumbai: Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is in talks to acquire a 30 per cent stake in Sudan''s Block 8 from Malaysia''s Petronas, which holds 85 per cent stake in the Sudan oil block.

ONGC is also likely to acquire stake in a second exploration block in the African country.

The state-run oil and gas explorer was also seeking to acquire a share in Block B, in which European oil major Total has a stake, Sudan oil minister Award Ahmed al-Jaz said, adding, "ONGC has three blocks and they are on their way to joining a fourth."

The minister was speaking to reporters after a meeting with Indian officials.

"Besides the three blocks ONGC already has in Sudan, it has shown interest in two more blocks. The doors are open for Indian investment in Sudan," Jaz said.

ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL), the overseas arm of ONGC, has sought to purchase the stakes in Block 8 and Block B, R S Butola, managing director of OVL, said after a meeting between officials of the two countries.

Petroleum minister Murli Deora and his Sudanese counterpart Ahmed Al-Jaz discussed OVL''s investment plans in Sudan ahead of the two-day India-Africa Hydrocarbon Conference.

"India needs affordable access to energy to insulate our economy from the vagaries of the international oil market,'''' Deora said at the start of the two-day meeting with visiting oil officials from African countries. The meeting was aimed at discussing oil co-operation between India and Africa.

ONGC, which is already a major producer in Sudan, is trying to increase its share of overseas business.