India and Russia identify areas for cooperation in hydrocarbon

Oct 27, 2004 02:00 AM

The Indian Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mani Shankar Aiyar, said that Russia had played a critical role in launching India into the modern hydrocarbon sector in the last fifty years of the last century, and that it was now poised to play an even greater role in ensuring the energy security of its long and time tested friend in the next fifty.
According to the Indian Minister, in the run up to 4th Russian Oil and Gas Week, where he delivered the keynote address, he has had a series of extremely significant meetings with Khristenko, the Russian Minister of Industry and Energy as well as leaders of the Russian oil and gas industry.

The Minister’s visit began on 23 October with a presentation by the Skochinsky Institute of Mining. The focus of this visit was a collaboration between the Institute and ONGC to begin work on a pilot project for the development and production of gas from underground coal seams, which lay at depths of more than 600 meters. On 25 October, the Indian Minister reviewed the Sakhalin I project in which OVL holds a 20 % stake, with ExxonMobil as operator.
ExxonMobil clarified that there have been no cost overruns in the overall project cost which remains at $ 12.8 bn. There has, however, been a rescheduling of activity which has pushed up the costs of phase I even as the total reserves of the field have increased. The net result has been that the unit development cost remains the same at $ 3.9 per barrel.

ExxonMobil also sought the Minister’s assistance with the Russian authorities in getting early approvals for the work program and budget for 2005 as well in tie-ups for gas and oil sales to domestic customers during early production, scheduled to begin in 2005. A third issue was related to the settlement of the boundary for the Chayvo field. The Minister stressed the role of such diplomatic interventions which India could make from time to time for the benefit of smoother operations.
More importantly, in his meeting with Khristenko, the Russian Minister ofIndustry and Energy, Aiyar raised these concerns voiced by the Operator and was assured that these would be immediately addressed. In this context, Aiyar pointed out the greater role that diplomacy should play in the context of oil and gas projects abroad and stressed that this would be the new thrust that he sought to impart to our quest for energy security.

Next, the Indian Minister had the most widely ranging discussions with Alexei Miller, Chairman of Gazprom. Both sides agreed that there was now room for more active collaboration between Gazprom and Indian companies and that Gazprom along with Gail and ONGC would enter into a wide-ranging MoU.
Possible projects could cover the possibility of getting Sakhalin oil to India, Gail’s involvement in Gazprom’s East Siberian pipeline and the pipeline to Japan, as and when these projects became a reality. The Minister also promulgated the novel idea of gas to oil, whereby Indian companies could take their share of equity in gas in the form of oil.

The high point of the Minister’s visit was his meeting with Khristenko, the Russian Minister of Industry and Energy. In this context Aiyar touched upon the meeting of Asian buyers and West Asian sellers that India is jointly co-hosting with Kuwait in January 2005 to develop an Asian products market.
Aiyar suggested that in order to complete the picture, India and Russia could think of co-hosting a complementary meeting of Central Asian suppliers and Asian buyers. The Russian Minister agreed that these were concepts that needed to be developed and taken further.

Aiyar also felt that it was now time for India’s participation in Russia to expand beyond Sakhalin I into Sakhalin 3, Severnaya Neft, Vankor, Prirazlomnoye and other fields.
The Minister also met Alekperov who heads LUKoil, Russia’s second largest oil company. It was agreed that LUKoil as well as OVL should enter into an MoU for working together, while IOC along with other Indian buyers, could also explore the possibilities of sourcing crude from LUKoil’s overseas assets.

Source: IRNA
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