Indian oil giant said it never offered $5 billion for Canadian oil sands

State-own Indian oil company Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) denied Tuesday that, together with two other state-run oil firms, bid $5 billion for a stake in six Canadian oil sands assets owned by U.S. energy giant ConocoPhillips, as several media outlets reported Monday.

According to CTV news, ONGC chairman and managing director, Sudhir Vasudeva, told the Press Trust of India the companies haven’t offered anything to ConocoPhilips, but the article suggested they haven't completely ruled out making an offer.

"I can categorically say that we have not made a bid yet for the $5 billion deal," ONGC chairman and managing director Sudhir Vasudeva told PTI.

Quoting anonymous sources, numerous reports said Monday the Indian group of firms had made their joint, non-binding bid a few weeks back.

India is the world’s fourth-largest oil importer, importing about 80% of its oil needs. With fuel demand and refining capacity expanding, the country’s government has told local companies to secure energy assets overseas, which would help power the growing economy.

In January, ConocoPhillips —the Houston based oil company— put stakes in six Alberta properties on the auction block as part of its global restructuring plans. They produce 12,000 barrels of oil a day from an estimated 30 billion barrels of bitumen.

The one producing project in the package is Surmont, run in a joint venture with France's Total SA. Located south of Fort McMurray, the pumps carry about 25,000 barrels per day. The partners are working to boost that to 136,000 bpd, starting in 2015.

With foreign investors pouring money into the Alberta oil sands ownership of the industry has become a contentious issue in Canada.

In a recent interview with Today, Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May explained her worries.  “It’s naive to think there’s no difference between Sinopec or PetroChina and Imperial Oil or Exxon,” said May.

In contrast Michel Kelly-Gagnon, president of the Montreal Economic Institute, is quick to point out in his column that without foreign investors the “industry would be smaller and less competitive, generating fewer jobs and salaries, and less revenue from taxes and royalties.”

To date Chinese owned companies have invested over $15 billion in Albertan oil sands developments and roughly 70% of all oil sands production is owned by out of Canada shareholders.