04 December, 2020

The Look-After-No.1 Drill

ONGC's Sudan buy is sound in monetary, strategic and energy terms but the civil war there places it in an untenable spot

The Look-After-No.1 Drill
It made for unusual headlines. When Canadian oil firm Talisman sold its stake in a Sudanese drilling operation to ONGC late last month, it wasn't just a business story. The news was splashed on front pages across Canada. A coalition of human rights activists crowed victory; forcing Talisman out of war-torn Sudan was one of the biggest corporate victories since the divestment campaigns during apartheid in South Africa, they said. Now those same campaigners are preparing to make ONGC their new target.

On paper, the Talisman sale was a standard business deal: the Calgary-based company sold its 25 per cent stake in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (in which the state oil companies of Malaysia, China and Sudan are also partners) to ONGC for $748 million. Talisman made $340 million, a 30 per cent return on its four-year-old investment in Sudan, and India got a share in a booming oil development that promises a steady supply, removed from shaky West Asian and spot markets. "The purchase of the Sudanese assets will give India much-needed oil security," petroleum minister...


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