The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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ONGC Videsh now in Syria

New Delhi, June 10: ONGC Videsh has spread its wings to Syria where it is taking up an oil exploration block in partnership with a Dallas-based US companyŚ IPR International.

An ONGC team will be leaving for Damascus towards the end of this month to finalise the deal which has been clinched through the international competitive bidding route, it is reliably learnt.

A Chinese and a European company were also reported to have been in the race for the 2,800 square km onland Block 24. ONGC-Videsh will have a 60 per cent stake in the block while the US company gets a 40 per cent share.

ONGC-Videsh and IPR International have made a commitment to invest $ 7.5 million in the first phase of exploration during which two exploratory wells will be drilled and 500 line km of seismic data will be gathered. In addition, some of the old seismic data pertaining to the block will be reprocessed.

Sources disclose that oil has already been struck within Block 24 before. But the discovered field has been hived off from the original block and does not form part of the deal. However, as the geological structure is similar, the prospects of striking more oil or gas in the area appear to be bright at this stage.

Syria is a hydrocarbon-rich country, producing over 0.5 million barrels of oil per day. Global oil majors such as Shell and Total are engaged in oil exploration and production in the country.

Since Syria and Iraq share a common border, ONGC-Videsh will be able to derive economies of scale by integrating its operations in the two countries.

Profits double

ONGC-Videsh, the foreign arm of upstream oil major ONGC, has more than doubled its net profit to Rs 59 crore for the financial year ended March 31, 2003. The company had registered a net profit of Rs 24 crore during 2002-03. The accounts were cleared at the board of directors meeting held here today. The company had spent $ 750 million during the year to pick up a share in the Sudan oilfield. The returns on this investment is expected to boost its bottomline this fiscal.

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