Cairn India bids for one block in Sri Lanka; OVL skips

Cairn India Ltd has bid for one oil and gas exploration block in Sri

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Lanka while ONGC Videsh did not bid for any of the 13 blocks on offer in that country mainly due to poor prospectivity.

Bids for 13 offshore exploration blocks offered in the Sri Lankan Licensing Round, only the second in its history, closed on November 29.

Sri Lanka received just three bids at the close with Cairn being the only major explorer bidding, industry sources said.

Cairn bid for a block in Mannar basin while OVL, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), totally skipped the round.

Little known Singapore-based Bonavista Energy Corp bid for two blocks in the Cauvery basin located offshore Jaffna in the North.

OVL initially looked interested in three blocks M3, M5 and M6 in the Mannar basin but did not make a former offer due to its assessment of poor prospectivity.

Cairn bid for M5 block and Bonavista bid for Cauvery Blocks C2 and C3.

Sri Lanka had offerd 13 blocks in the Cauvery and Mannar basins, located to the North and West of the island nation.

Cairn already has a block in Mannar basin where it has made two gas discoveries. It had won the block in Sri Lanka's first licensing round in 2007 by defeating OVL and Niko Resources of Canada.

Sri Lanka's Petroleum Resource Development Secretariat (PRDS) Director General Saliya Wickramasuriya had in September stated that oil majors Exxon Mobil Corp, Royal Dutch Shell, France's Total and Eni of Italy have shown interest in bidding for blocks on offer.

PRDS is the government agency responsible for overseeing all petroleum exploration and production-related activities in Sri Lanka.

The island nation, which is trying to reinvigorate oil and gas exploration, expects to award the blocks in the first quarter of 2014.

Sri Lanka does not currently produce oil or gas and spent $5 billion on imports in 2012.

Besides the 13 shallow water blocks, Sri Lanka has also offered six ultra-deepwater blocks off the southeastern coast for a joint study with PRDS to establish their hydrocarbon potential.

Although there have been no oil or gas discoveries in the Sri Lankan sector of the Cauvery basin, the Indian sector of the basin has significant oil and gas fields.

The Mannar basin hosts the discoveries made by Cairn.

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