Indian company joins Cuban oil search

India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) said on Tuesday it had acquired a 30% stake in seven exploration blocks offshore Cuba. It will share this development with Spain's Repsol-YPF (40% stakeholder) and Norwegian company Norsk Hydro ASA (remaining 30% stakeholder).

Offshore staff

(New Delhi)- India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) said on Tuesday it had acquired a 30% stake in seven exploration blocks offshore Cuba. It will share this development with Spain's Repsol-YPF (40% stakeholder) and Norwegian company Norsk Hydro ASA (remaining 30% stakeholder).

State-owned ONGC will hold stakes in blocks 25-29, 36 and a part of block 35, according to a company statement. Development in this region is part of a broader initiative to lay down stakes in foreign petroleum assets in response to India's growing economy and demand for oil. Current domestic Indian production accounts for only 30% of the country's demand.

While earlier explorations in Cuba's GoM waters have only turned up modest discoveries, many oil specialists believe there are large quantities of crude to be tapped. "The hydrocarbon resource potential in the blocks is estimated to be in excess of 4 Bbbl. One exploratory well drilled in one of these blocks indicated presence of hydrocarbons," an ONGC spokesman said.

U.S. firms are prohibited from joining in oil exploration off Cuba's coast due to the nearly five decades-long trade and financial sanctions against the communist-governed island.

9/20/05

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