New Delhi: ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has lost its bid to acquire US energy major Exxon Mobil's 25 per cent stake in deep-sea oil block in Angola.

British energy firm BP Plc is the operator of the ultra-deep sea block with 26.7 per cent stake.

"OVL had last year bid around USD 2.1-2.2 billion for the 25 per cent stake in Block 31 in Angola. However, Exxon has at least one offer which is better than this," a source abreast with the development said.

Exxon had in February told OVL that it was not the highest bidder for Block 31.

"We don't yet know who has bid more than OVL but it will be fair to guess that it might be a Chinese, Korean or even a Thai company," he said.

 "It is not that OVL is out of the race. They have an option to hike their bid. But more importantly, if the company at the forefront is not liked by Angolan government, Exxon may
be forced to go to other bidder," the source said.

Block 31 is expected to produce 1,50,000 barrels of crude oil per day (7.5 million tons a year) and output is expected to start in 2012.

In all 19 oil discoveries have been made so far in the block. French oil major Total SA's subsidiary TEPA holds 5 per cent interest in the block.

OVL had in 2004-05 lost out on acquiring 45 per cent stake in the giant Akpo oilfield in Angola. The government had rejected OVL proposal due to Akpo's ownership issues.

After Indian government disallowed OVL to pursue the Akpo opportunity, China's CNOOC Ltd acquired the 45 per cent stake for USD 2.268 billion.

Sonangol is the concessionaire of Block 31. BP Exploration (Angola) Ltd as operator holds 26.67 per cent.

The other interest owners in Block 31 are Sonangol P&P (20 per cent), Statoil Angola AS (a subsidiary of Statoil Hydro ASA)(13.33 per cent), Marathon International Petroleum Angola Block 31 Ltd (10 per cent) and TEPA (BLOCK 31) Limited, (a subsidiary of the Total Group) (5 per cent).

(Agencies)