A consortium of Indian public-sector energy companies said they may join a bidding war for Africa-focused gas explorer Cove Energy, becoming the second Asian state-run group seeking to trump Shell's $1.6 billion (Dh5.87 billion) offer.
A last-minute offer from Oil and Natural Gas Corp and GAIL India would pit them against Thai oil and gas group PTT and Royal Dutch Shell Plc in a race for the London-listed company's promising gas reserves in Mozambique.
"Given the potential of the asset, it would be a good acquisition," said Manish Sonthalia, fund manager at Motilal Oswal AMC, who doubted funding would be a problem.
"Shell is also bidding, so you have that much comfort on the asset and its potential."
Shell had hoped to make a pre-emptive move for Cove's prize among hot East Africa gas prospects by offering 195 pence (Dh11.35) per share for the company earlier this month, a 70 per cent premium to the share price when Cove put itself up for sale on January 5.
But Thailand's PTT beat that last Friday with a 220 pence bid, or $1.77 billion, and while analysts had doubts about the Indian firms' prospects, their interest highlights a quickening scramble for natural resources for fast-growing Asian economies.