Mittal to continue partnership with ONGC
New Delhi: His ambitious foray into energy space with Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) may not have but desired success, but steel tycoon Lakshmi N. Mittal is not just yet giving up on the venture with the state-run explorer.
Mittal had in 2005 formed two companies with ONGC for exploration oil and gas and trading in oil. While ONGC-Mittal Energy Ltd's (OMEL), the exploration venture of Mittal with ONGC Videsh Ltd, presence has shrunk just a block in Nigeria, the trading venture - in ONGC-Mittal Energy Services Ltd, has folded up.
"The partnership (with ONGC) is not over but there are not many projects that partnership is discussing," Mittal told a group of newspersons here today.
OMEL never took off because ONGC after the 2006 retirement of Subir Raha, whose brainchild was the idea of using Mittal's influence in Central Asia and Africa in securing energy assets, ONGC was not keen on oil trading business.
OMEL, on the other hand, won two blocks in Nigeria and a gas block in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T). While one of the deepsea blocks in Nigeria has since been relinquished as no commercial discovery was made, the 2 trillion cubic feet gas block in T&T had to be given up after Mittal walked out of the project in 2008 because of economic downturn.
Mittal also pulled out of the Kazakhstan's Satpayev oilfield in the Caspian Sea which was allocated to OMEL.
While the partnership with ONGC did not bear desired fruits, Mittal said he was happy with the joint venture with Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) which built a Rs 21,500 crore, 9 million tonne refinery at Bhatinda.
Though "we are not seeing the progress we would like" in our steel projects in India, "our commitment to India is there as seen from investment in Guru Gobind Singh Refinery," he said. The refinery, he said, was a clear signal that if stage was set rights, things can happen.
Mittal said he plans to use HPCL Mittal Energy Ltd, the joint venture of HPCL and his Mittal Energy Investment, for oil and gas exploration venture as it is "good platform."
ONGC and Mittal had in July 2005 inked a joint venture agreement for acquisition of oil and gas fields, refinery business and LNG projects in 27 countries.
Of the 27 nations, in 10 countries -- Angola, Azerbaijan, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Romania, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- Mittal and ONGC had agreed to participate on an exclusive basis through OMEL.
But the exclusivity agreement did not stop Mittal from buying 50 percent stake in Kazakhstan oil company Caspian Investment Resources in 2007. CIR was to be originally acquired by OMEL.