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Sudan oilfield to fetch quick return

New Delhi, Dec. 8: With the output of the Greater Nile oilfield in Sudan anticipated to go up from 12 million tonnes per year at present to 15 million tonnes soon, ONGC-Videsh Ltd (OVL) is expected to recover its entire investment of around $600 million in the project within the next two years.

This was disclosed here today by petroleum minister Ram Naik after a meeting with the Sudanese energy minister Awad Ahmed El Jazz. OVL is currently entitled to 3 million tonnes of oil from the field on account of its 25 per cent stake. This share will go up to 3.75 million tonnes.

Jazz said Sudan was currently producing 300,000 barrels of oil per day from three producing oilfields. This output is expected to go up to over 500,000 barrels per day by mid-2005 which will mark the arrival of the country as a major player in the oil sector.

The minister also told Naik that the Sudanese government would be signing a peace accord with the Christian rebels in the next 15 days. These radical elements have given rise to some instability in the country although there has been no major disruption in oil production. The peace accord will serve as an added attraction to investors in the emerging oil destination.

The minority Christian rebels have been getting support from radical Church groups in the west and the Canadian company Talisman had to pull out of the Muslim country as it was accused of financing the government to crush the Christian minority.

However, the hasty withdrawal of the Canadian company had enabled OVL to clinch a good deal for its 25 per cent stake. The Malaysian national company Petronas and the Chinese national company are the other partners in the oilfield.

OVL has recently clinched a $115 million deal for buying Austrian company OMV's 25 per cent stake in two other oil exploration blocks in Sudan adjoining the Greater Nile project. It also has plans of acquiring more blocks in Sudan.

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