RIL, ONGC may undertake joint oil exploration in Iraq

Oil and Natural Gas Corp, through its overseas investment arm ONGC Videsh Ltd, and Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) are discussing the possibility of jointly developing the Tuba oil field in southern Iraq.

This is the first time that public sector and RIL, which have competed aggressively against each other, would join hands overseas, if the consortium works out.

Earlier in 2000 ONGC Videsh, RIL and Algeria's Sonatrach had tried to secure the field in Iraq for production of crude oil, an idea which ONGC and RIL are keen to revive. The public sector ONGC has also tried to interest the Algerian firm to revive the consortium to pursue the opportunity jointly.

ONGC and RIL were expected to hold a 30-per cent stake each in the project-specific consortium and Sonatrach would hold the remaining 40 per cent. Iraq regions will shortly be granted powers to directly negotiate oilfield contracts with foreign investors.