India’s state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and GAIL India plan to offer $2 billion to acquire Africa-focused gas explorer Cove Energy, an Indian media report said, joining a bidding war over the UK-listed company. The offer would beat a $1.77 billion bid by Thai state-controlled oil and gas group PTT and Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s offer worth $1.6 billion earlier this month, which already represented a 70 percent premium to Cove’s share price when it announced plans to sell in January. ONGC Videsh, the overseas investment arm of oil explorer and producer ONGC, and GAIL could make their combined bid this week, the Times of India newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the matter. Indian state-run consortium may value London-listed Cove at 245 pence-a-share, the report said. Officials at ONGC Videsh and GAIL could not be immediately reached by Reuters. PTT said on Friday it planned a 220 pence-per-share bid with a proposed offer worth 1.12 billion pounds ($1.77 billion), trumping Shell’s offer for Cove. PTT declined to comment on the newspaper report on Tuesday. The emerging battle reflects intense industry interest in East Africa, a previously little-explored area which is tipped to become a major natural gas producing region. Cove’s main asset is an 8.5 percent stake in Mozambique’s Rovuma Offshore Area 1, where another operator Anadarko said recoverable reserves could top 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Indian firms Bharat Petroleum Corp and Videocon Industries own a 10 percent stake each in the Rovuma block. Cove kicked off a sale process in January, and Shell attempted to pre-empt rivals by making an early 992 million-pound offer proposal, which was described by analysts when it was announced as stretched . Companies eyeing Asia’s rapid growth have been keenly seeking opportunities to buy up global resource assets.