New Delhi, August 10:

In its continuing search for newer oil sources, India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) is expecting to pick up 50 per cent equity stake in an exploration block in Kazakhstan in the oil-rich Caspian Sea region. This will be India’s first equity oil in the Central Asian region.

“Together with Kazakhstan national oil company KazMunayGaz we have identified two exploration blocks in the Caspian region. An OVL team is currently there undertaking a joint study of seismic modes,” an official source said. The medium-size blocks are Satbayev and Mukhanbet. Under a memorandum of understanding between the Indian and Kazakhstan national companies, “we will be given one of the blocks for joint development under a production sharing contract. We will hold 50:50 stake in the exploration block,” source said. OVL, the overseas investment arm of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, is partly funding the joint study.

The groundwork for India getting oil equity in Kazakhstan was laid during petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar’s visit to Astana in February. The matter took firmer shape during a meeting between prime minister Manmohan Singh and Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbaev in Moscow in July. Subsequent to this, OVL stationed a team in Astana to undertake joint study of the identified blocks.