Is India buying Canadian oil sands?

By Hilton Price 

There are conflicting reports over whether three state-run Indian oil firms have bid on Canadian oil sands properties owned by ConocoPhillips. A representative from ONGC Videsh, the investment arm of Indian oil firm ONGC, says the bid of $5 billion was put in back in July. That representative said ONGC was joined by Indian Oil and Oil India in the bid. However, ONGC’s chairman and managing director says that report is false, and no bid has been made.

What is known is that the Indian Government has put out a call to state firms to secure available assets around the globe. India is the planet’s fourth-biggest oil importer, and had recently cut imports from Iran in support of U.S.-led sanctions to curb that country’s nuclear pursuits. The bid for new assets is part of the country’s plan to compensate for the reduced Iranian import, and concurrently prepare for the continued expansion of the country’s $2 trillion economy.

The ONGC chairman denying the bid reports confirms his company is looking for new assets, and is considering the Canadian properties. But he says no bid has been made.

The properties were announced for sale by ConocoPhillips in January. A rep for the company declined to comment on the bid reports, calling them “market rumours.”

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