India's ONGC may bid for $5 billion Conoco oil sands assets: source

KUALA LUMPUR Tue Jun 5, 2012 1:57am EDT

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC.NS), India's biggest state-owned energy explorer, is considering bidding for part of ConocoPhillips (COP.N) Canadian oil sands holdings worth around $5 billion, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Tuesday.

The Houston-based company has been looking to sell assets in a number of countries including Nigeria as part of a global restructuring. ConocoPhillips recently completed the spin-off of its refining activities into Phillips 66, a newly created independent U.S. company.

ConocoPhillips said in January that it is selling a stake in six Alberta properties that produce 12,000 barrels of oil a day from an estimated 30 billion barrels of bitumen.

Asked whether ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of ONGC, was interested in buying the assets, the source said: "It's in the process. It is seriously looking at it."

The first round of bids is due soon and there is likely to be competition from other international parties, including possible Chinese interest, said the source.

State-run Oil India (OILI.NS) is also looking to buy stakes in ConocoPhillips' oil sand assets in Canada, its head of finance said last week.

Of the six projects offered, only Surmont, run in a joint venture with France's Total SA (TOTF.PA), is producing oil. Located south of the oil sands hub of Fort McMurray, Alberta, the steam-driven development pumps about 25,000 barrels a day.

The partners are working to boost that to 136,000 bpd, starting in 2015.

The other properties are the Thornbury, Clyden, Saleski, Crow Lake and McMillan Lake assets. The land totals 715,000 acres.

(Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Ryan Woo)

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