NEW DELHI (AFP) – The owners of Advent Energy denied a report Wednesday that India's state-run energy group ONGC was in talks to buy the Australian explorer as the fast-growing country seeks new fuel sources abroad.

India's Economic Times newspaper had said Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) was leading a consortium of Indian groups in talks to buy a 25-percent stake in the unlisted company in a deal that could be worth a billion dollars.

"Commentary in the media in India on formal discussions between Advent Energy Ltd and a consortium of Indian state-run energy firms, regarding talks to acquire a 25-percent stake in Advent for one billion billion, is incorrect," its owners said in statements.

India's growing dependence on energy imports has led the government to urge state-run groups to step up efforts to make overseas acquisitions.

However, none of the big Indian state-run groups has been able to seal a deal in the past 18 months as they suffer competition from their financially stronger Chinese rivals.