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Industry News

Enron Sale of India Gas Interests in Trouble

LCG, Oct. 5, 2001--Enron Corp. may fail to sell its stake in the gas fields, Tapti, and Panna-Mukta, the Economic Times reported this morning.

The paper said that the federal government of India has made it clear that other equity holders -- ONGC and Reliance -- must have the option to operate the fields once Enron Oil & Gas India Ltd. (EOGIL) exits.

Enron's deal to sell its 30 percent stake in the two fields to BG Plc of Britain stipulates that EOGIL will continue to operate the fields after the former British Gas acquires ownership of its stake. ONGC and Reliance together hold 70 per cent stake in the joint venture and have claimed operating rights over the gas fields.

Petroleum minister Ram Naik said, "The government's role is restricted to that of a facilitator. Enron has written to us regarding their decision to exit and the new deal struck with British Gas." However, he said, it is for ONGC and Reliance who are existing equity holders to take a decision on the operation of the fields.

Nigel Shaw, a vice president of BG, said that "the sale is subject to a number of consents and conditions including confirmation from joint venture partners of Enron Oil Gas India's continuation as operator after completion." BG, which already has gas interests in the west coast of India, had announced that the EOGIL interests would be bought at $388 million.

Subir Raha, an official of ONGC, maintained operation of the fields does not automatically get transferred to the new equity holder. As is the case with the production sharing contract, the operation of the fields has to be a decision based on consensus, he said.

Asked if the Indian federal government would mediate and resolve the issue, Naik said that BG and Enron have struck the deal keeping in mind existing conditions and the possible consequences. It is for them to find a solution, he said.

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