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* Big demand for Sri Lanka's oil blocks in second round bidding
Fri, Feb 22, 2013, 11:45 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 22, Colombo: Several major international oil companies have expressed interest in Sri Lanka's second round of bidding for the oil blocks in the Mannar Basin off Sri Lanka's northwest coast, the Chairman of Petroleum Resources Development Secretariat Saliya Wickramasuriya has said.

Sri Lanka will announce the bids for the oil blocks at the IHS CERAWeek 2013 in Houston on March 07. The announcement will be followed by a series of road shows in Houston, London and Singapore.

In an e-mail interview with local business website News360, Wickramasuriya has said around 25 oil and gas companies from many places have so far shown interest to participate in the road shows.

"We have had several major international oil companies and many more independents express interest in Sri Lanka thus far, and our scheduled road shows are being well subscribed to in all 3 destinations," Wickramasuriya has said.

According to the Chairman, Indian firms such as OVL and Reliance has shown interest to get engaged in exploration activities, but so far the Secretariat has not received any interest from Chinese firms.

The road show will be in London from March 11th to 15th and in Singapore from March 18 to 22.

According to Wickramasuriya, up to 10 offshore blocks would be awarded in the second bidding round.

Cairn Lanka, a subsidiary of Cairn India bought the only block awarded in the first round. Cairn had explored three oil wells in the block in phase one and found petroleum residues in two of them. Exploration on a fourth well is about to start this month after a third well found to be unproductive and plugged in December 2011.

Success of Cairn's explorations in finding liquid gas deposits has helped to draw interest of more oil companies for the second round bidding, Wickramasuriya has said.

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