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India to bargain for stake in Sakhalin projects

January 10, 2007 15:07 IST
India will make a strong plea for firms getting a stake in future Sakhalin projects in Far East Russia when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits New Delhi later this month.

With ONGC Videsh Ltd's 20 per cent stake in Sakhalin-I fields fetching the country 2.4 million tonnes of crude per annum, India, which is 73 per cent import dependent to meet its energy needs, will use the visit of Putin to participate in country's Republic Day celebrations to push for OVL's participation in the Sakhalin-III fields, a top official said.

Sakhalin-I and II projects have already been decided and Russia is planning to invite bids in future for Sakhalin-III, IV, V and VI projects in the vast energy-rich region.

New Delhi wants an agreement between OVL and Russia's Rosneft for joint bidding for the Sakhalin-3 project. Also on OVL radar are the Trebs and Titov exploration blocks in Timan Pechora region, for which a partnership with Rosneft will be sought.

The official said India also wanted OVL to form a joint venture with either Rosneft of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom to pursue other oil and gas exploration opportunities in Russia.

OVL would also seek an agreement with Rosneft for the development of the Vankor field, in which Rosneft is seeking new partners, and a stake in the Kurmangazy field.

Besides, New Delhi wants to convert Sakhalin-I gas into liquefied natural gas (LNG) for shipping it back home. "We want to use the Russian President's visit to push for an agreement on the issue."

The official said Petroleum Minister Murli Deora has already written to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to leverage Putin's visit to Indian oil companies' interest in Russian oil and gas sector.

Deora noted that Rosneft had initially expressed interest in joint bidding with OVL, the proposal for floating a joint venture for participation in exploration and production blocks has not made any headway so far.

Similarly, OVL's plea for utilising Sakhalin-I gas for an LNG project have not been heeded so far, the official said adding Deora has urged the Prime Minister to push for conclusion on some of the pending deals with Putin.

Gazprom is likely to play a key role in the pipelines from Central Asia like the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan- India pipeline.

OVL, the overseas arm of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp, is eyeing oil fields in East Siberia, which is estimated to hold some 20 billion barrels of reserves. It is also looking at participating in Russian continental shelf that may contain oil and gas in 4 million sq km of its total area of 6.5 million sq km (largest in the world).

Also, likely to figure during discussions is OVL's participation in the 3.2 trillion cubic meters super giant gas field Shtokman and Prirazlomneye oilfield, which holds recoverable oil reserves of more than 83 million tonnes.

Other areas of interest for OVL include exploration blocs in Timan-Pechora area, Sakhalin-3 and 6 projects, Vankor oil field and exploration properties in East Siberia.

OVL wants to join hands with either Rosneft or Gazprom to bid for Sakhalin-III project and Timan Pechora fields, the official said adding it also wants to join Rosneft in Kazakhstan's Kurmangazy oilfield.

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