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Kolkata-based oil & gas co set to buy LSE-listed firm

THE TIMES OF INDIA | Feb 22, 2017, 07.55 AM IST


KOLKATA : City-based PFH Oil and Gas, promoted by Harsh V Poddar of Poddar group, is in talks with London Stock Exchange (LSE)-listed companies for acquisition to expand its energy business. The Poddar-led firm has won three gas blocks from ministry of petroleum and natural gas last week. It is one of the youngest firms in India and the only firm from east to be allotted these oil and gas blocks by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in this round of auction held on February 16.

Out of these three fields, two are in KG basin (Andhra Pradesh) and one in Cambay basin in Gujarat. During the latest auction round, CCEA awarded contracts for 44 fields, mostly smaller fields of ONGC and OIL India. A total of 47 companies submitted their bids for these blocks, out of which four were foreign companies.

Poddar, a 29 year MBA from Yale and a graduate of Duke University who came back to Kolkata after over an eight-year stint in the US, told TOI that his plan is to acquire the LSE-listed company and merge it with PFH through which its hydrocarbon firm, too, would be listed on LSE. "We are in advance talks with two-three firms. I am going to the UK later this week to finalize a deal," he added.


However, Poddar didn't disclose the names of the UK firms citing LSE restrictions


According to Poddar, the three gas fields awarded to PFH have adequate reserve. "There are four drilled wells, and the company plans to drill at least 11 additional wells in the near future. Our portfolio currently consists of three fields in India, which we expect to bring into production by the end of the year. By 2020, we aim to have a portfolio of at least 10 producing blocks in India," he added. Over the next 20 years, PFH has set a target to become one of the largest global exploration and production companies with a focus on gas.


A young serial entrepreneur, Poddar has acquired or started companies in IT, semiconductors, shipping and environment engineering across India, the US, China and Israel over the last eight years. According to him, Yogeshwar Sharma, based in France, has recently been appointed as a director on the board of PFH. He is the co-founder of Hardy Oil and Gas plc, a London-listed company and served as its CEO until May 2012. PFH Oil and Gas is advised by Manuel Pinho, who had served as economy minister of Portugal from 2005-2009.

Apart from upstream business of exploration and production (E&P), it is also planning to focus on building mid-stream business like infrastructure such as pipelines in the KG basin to make it easier for independent and smaller E&P companies to enter the industry in the future. "Since transportation infrastructure in India is predominantly government-owned, often capacity constraints and lack of competition make it difficult for smaller private companies to negotiate a deal and efficiently transport and market their production. We aim to contribute towards building the necessary ecosystem to make India a vibrant domestic oil and gas market," he added.

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