• India and Russia may agree to create an “energy bridge”

    India and Russia may agree to create an “energy bridge” – envisaging a gas supply pipeline – at their next annual summit in Goa on October 15, besides additional stakes for Indian companies in oil and gas fields in the Arctic and Baltic regions.

    The oil and gas sector is emerging as the next big area of bilateral cooperation after defence.

    When Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets President Vladimir Putin, India and Russia could agree to set up the pipeline for gas supply from Russia.

    India and Russia launched an industry-level working group on gas delivery from Russia at an inter-governmental commission held in New Delhi in September and directed their ministries to finalise “concrete outcomes” in key areas of trade and investment before the summit.

    The working group was led by Gazprom, Russia’s biggest gas company, and a group of Indian companies “for creating an ‘energy bridge’ between the two countries through possible gas pipelines for direct gas delivery from Russia to India,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement dated September 13. Indian and Russian oil and gas companies are working towards finalisation of investments in each other’s countries, the ministry said.

    Senior officials told ET that Indian energy companies are exploring investment options in Russian assets in the Baltic and Arctic regions.

    The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on September 28 granted approval to a consortium of state-owned companies to purchase stakes in companies operating two Russian oilfields for more than $3 billion to augment India’s energy security.

    The consortium of Oil India Ltd., Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. and Bharat Petro Resources Ltd. will acquire a 23.9% stake in JSC Vankorneft and a 29.9% holding in LLC Taas-Yuryakh. The stakes will be bought from Rosneft Oil Company, Russia’s national oil company, which owns both the operators.

    Earlier last month, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation, India’s biggest energy explorer, agreed to buy an additional 11% stake in Vankormneft, owner of the Vankor oil and gas fields in Siberia, Rosneft’s second-largest by output, which accounts for 4% of Russia’s production. “Daily production from the field is around 421,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil on an average and together with the earlier acquisition of 15%, ONGC Videsh’s share of daily oil production from Vankor will be about 110,000 bpd,” ONGC said in a statement on September 14. Once the transaction is completed, ONGC Videsh, the company’s overseas arm, will have a 26% stake in JSC Vankorneft.

    Following his visit to Russia in June, Petroleum & Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said a consortium of Indian oil companies led by ONGC Videsh was considering purchase of part of the $11 billion stake that Russia was selling in Rosneft. Brett Pesce Jersey

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