India to sign Aussie LNG deal

India will be signing a 2.5 million-tonne per annum LNG deal with Australia in the next two months.

"We have concluded most of the agreements. A formal agreement can be signed as early as Marchend," petroleum secretary M.S. Srinivasan told reporters on the sidelines of a curtain raiser press conference for Petrotech-2007 an international oil and gas conference and exhibition organised by ONGC.

Mr Srinivasan said that the supplies would begin in 2011 with the contracts being for 25' years. Petronet LNG Ltd will import 2.5 million tonnes of LNG from Chevron-operated Gorgon Project. Chevron Australia has a mandate to sign a sale deal with Petronet by June 30 but a f0!'IIlal agreement can be inked within next 60 days.

Petronet LNG a company promoted by ONGC, Indian Oil, GAIL (India) and Bharat Petroleum, will import LNG from the Gorgon project at its under-construction Kochi terminal in Kerala.

Chevron is operator of the proje.ct with a 50 per cent interest, with ExxonMobil and Shell each holding 25 per cent. The project involves building two trains capable of producing a total of 10 million tonnes per annum of LNG. About three shipments a week are expected to leave a dedicated LNG loadingjeuy.

Meanwhile, Mr R. S. Sharma, chairman and managing direc~or of ONGC said that the PSU would annouQce a major gas find i~ the Krishna-Godavari basin within .15 days. He said that ONGC's drilling and exploratory efforts in the east coast has been highly prospective and ONGC will make an exciting announcement on a major gas find very soon.

Mr Sharma claimed that the initial results have been very encouraging. "It is very difficult for me to say anything now but the announcement will be made after the upstream regulator DGH makes an assessment," he added.

According to some reports reserves at finds in the Krishna Godavari basin could exceed market expectations of 21-22 trillion cubic feet, but the numbers would depend on further drilling. Me Sharma declined to comment on this.

Earlier speaking during the curtain raiser press conference Mr Srinivasan said successful exploration activities in the country during the past 4 to 5 years has gi ven a lot.o? hope. "Now India is seen as a country .with tremendous hydrocarbon potential. India is only an under-explored country and not under-endowed," said Mr Srinivasan.

Source: The Asian Age, New Delhi
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