Responding to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation of a higher Indian participation in his country’s energy sector, Indian oil major Oil and Natural Gas Company (ONGC) may tie-up with Russian firms for a larger bid in Sakhalin-III project. Russia plans to invite bids for the next 4 phases of the project.
Putin will be visiting India in the near term and it is expected that both nations are anxious to announce large cooperation in energy at that time. Petroleum Minister Murli Deora expressed the Indian sentiments with nostalgic comments of “friendly relationship” and historical Russian support on “technological matters.” Still, the fundamentals now are economic viability and technical know-how to transfer oil from a distant location, processing them in India, storage, and distribution. If these steps are mastered, then the transfer of oil across the seas, in even specialized tankers, can make such deals viable and reduce Indian reliance on West Asian oil and natural gas which may become unstable due to political crisis. Perhaps, this is what Deora was talking about and if so, this is very strategic thinking.
ONGC already has a 20% stake in Sakhalin-I and received the first cargo of 6.72 lakh barrels and another 7.05 lakh barrels in December and early this year and processed them at Mangalore. The Sakhalin-I project consists of 2.3 billion barrels of oil and 17.1 trillion cubic feet of gas