Is the ONGC a good company

Chinese and Indian companies vie for Petro Kazakhstan: bidding dispute over Canadian oil company is intensifying

HB / tom DÜSSELDORF. CNPC encounters an equally state-owned Asian competitor: The largest Indian oil company ONGC wants to get a chance at Petro Kazakhstan together with the steel mogul Lakshmi Mittal. The ONGC boss Subir Raha confirmed on Tuesday. Mittal has good contacts in Kazakhstan because he got into steel production there.

The much sought-after Canadian company, which has specialized in oil-rich Kazakhstan, produces 150,000 barrels a day (one barrel is 159 liters) and operates a refinery in the Central Asian country. The company's market value is $ 3.3 billion.

Both Chinese and Indian oil companies are currently trying to expand internationally in order to supply their energy-thirsty home markets and to replenish their own oil reserves. So far, however, their efforts are most likely to have been successful with state partners: like the Chinese company Sinopec, which has now signed a declaration of intent with the Indonesian state company Pertamina. According to this, Sinopec is building a refinery on the island of Java for 2.5 billion dollars and will get access to Indonesian oil and gas production. In the competition for entry into private companies, the Asian state-owned corporations often lose out. The reasons are a lack of management know-how or - as in the case of Unocal - political resistance.

CNPC has good cards with Petro Kazakhstan: Canadian politicians have so far not opposed takeovers in the energy sector by state-owned Chinese companies. CNPC also operates a pipeline with Kazakhstan's state-owned oil company KMG, which extends to the Chinese border and is scheduled for completion in 2006. The crude oil from the Petro Kazakhstan fields could be processed in the Chinese refineries attached to the new pipeline.

However, a politically well-wired company could enter the race for the Canadian company, suspects the industry service "Energy Intelligence": the Russian oil company Lukoil.