Oil-rich Sudan on Tuesday offered ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, two oil and gas blocks as India looks to strengthen energy ties with the African nation.

Sudan, which parted with most of its major oil fields when South Sudan was created in 2012, offered on land Block 8 and offshore Block 15 to OVL on a nomination basis.

“OVL has been present in Sudan since 2003, when it bought a stake in oil producing Blocks 1, 2 and 4 and the Sudan Crude Transport System,” Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily said after meeting Sudan’s State Minister of Petroleum Hatim Abuelgasin Mukhtar M. Elamin on the sidelines of the Petrotech 2014 conference here.

Block 8 is said to have an oil discovery while Block 15 is an exploration acreage. OVL will evaluate data and take 100 per cent rights if it finds them feasible for investment.

“Sudan has offered two blocks,” Mr. Moily said.

In March 2003, OVL acquired a 25 per cent interest in the Greater Nile Oil Project (GNOP), which consisted of the upstream assets of on land Blocks 1, 2 and 4 spread over 49,500 square kilometres in the Muglad Basin, located about 700 km southwest of the capital city of Khartoum.

GNOP also owns a 1,504-km crude oil pipeline from the oilfield in Heglig to Port Sudan at Red Sea.

During the talks, Mr. Moily raised the issue of overdue payments for the pipeline and high transit fee imposed by the government of Sudan for transit of foreign partners’ crude from South Sudan.

Mr. Moily, who used the sidelines of the Petrotech 2014 conference for some serious diplomacy with hydrocarbon-rich nations, said in his talks with Azerbaijan’s Minister for Energy Natig Aliyev, he flagged Indian companies’ interest in taking oil and gas exploration and production as well as refinery projects in the Central Asian nation.

The Azerbaijan minister welcomed Indian participation in both upstream and downstream projects.

OVL last year bought a stake in the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oilfields as well as the Baku-Tbilsi-Ceyhan pipeline, which was supported by Azerbaijan. The southwestern Asian nation is now keen to get Indian participation in more producing assets.

Also raised at the meeting was the issue of Indian firms other than Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) finding it difficult to buy Azeri crude oil.

IOC lifted 1.28 million tons of crude from Azerbaijan in 2012-13 and imported 0.9 million tons during April-November of the current financial year.

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