ONGC Withdraws ‘Premature’ Statement on Mozambique Gas Deal

India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. said that a statement today announcing an agreement to purchase part of a gas field in Mozambique from Videocon Industries Ltd. was “inadvertently issued” before a deal was completed.

The state-owned company withdrew the press release, which said ONGC and partner Oil India Ltd. would pay $2.5 billion for a 10 percent stake in the Rovuma-1 offshore gas project.

The announcement was “premature” because discussions with Videocon are ongoing and no final deal has been struck, ONGC Chairman Sudhir Vasudeva said by phone. Videocon Chairman Venugopal Dhoot didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

The Indian group was the leading bidder in an auction for gas assets in Mozambique owned by Videocon and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., people with knowledge of the matter said last month. The East African country has become a prominent destination for energy investment, especially by Asian companies, as it looks to develop the largest natural-gas find in a decade.

Anadarko and Eni SpA are leading a plan to convert gas from the Indian Ocean fields in Mozambique to liquid and transport it to countries including India. Liquefied natural gas plants need billions of dollars in investment to chill the gas to a liquid and ship it using tankers.

At a planned capacity of 20 million tons annually, the Mozambique project could be the world’s second-largest LNG export site, after Ras Laffan in Qatar, where Exxon Mobil Corp. is a partner.

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