India interested in buying BP assets in Vietnam: reports

NEW DELHI, July 21, 2010 (AFP) - Energy-hungry India is interested in buying BP's assets in Vietnam, an Indian government minister said Wednesday, as the country looks to obtain more energy supplies for its fast-growing economy.

"We are trying," Oil Minister Murli Deora told Dow Jones Newswires by telephone from Vietnam.

Deora said Indian state-run firms would hold talks with PetroVietnam -- the largest oil producer and second-largest power producer in Vietnam -- about acquiring BP assets, Dow Jones reported.

The Press Trust of India reported separately that India is pitching to buy the British energy giant's stake in the 1.3-billion-dollar Nam Con Son gas project in Vietnam, one of the country's biggest foreign investment projects.

The oil major operates the Nam Con Son gas project, which includes Lan Tay and Lan Do gas fields, as well as a pipeline and a gas-fired power plant.

India's state-run ONGC already holds 45 percent of Nam Con Son's Block 06.1, while BP has 35 percent and state-run PetroVietnam holds 20 percent.

The consortium produces about 12-14 million standard cubic meters of gas a day, supporting 30 percent of Vietnam's power generation capacity, according to India's oil ministry.

China's CNOOC and Sinopec, as well as Thailand's PTTEP may also be interested in BP's stake in the Vietnam project, media reports said.

India relies heavily on overseas oil and gas -- the nation imports 80 percent of its crude oil needs.

BP's asset sale plans to help pay for damages stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster presents an investment opportunity for India.

"This is a great opportunity for us," Deora told the Press Trust of India in Hanoi.

Deora travelled to Vietnam for a meeting of east Asia energy ministers. 

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