China has upstaged India in the battle for Russian energy resources .

China National Petroleum Corp. on Friday signed an agreement with Russia’s biggest private gas producer Novatek to acquire a 20 per cent stake in the latter’s LNG project in Yamal Peninsular in the Arctic region of northeast Siberia, and to secure long-term LNG supplies from the plant to be built in 2018.

The same day, another Chinese company, Sinopec, signed a contract with Russia’s State-owned Rosneft for the supply of 365 million tonnes of crude over the next 25 years at a cost of $270 billion.

ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) had bid for up to 20 per cent stake in the Yamal project in a tie-up with Petronet LNG and Indian Oil Corporation.

However, Novatek’s deal with China leaves only a 9 per cent stake up for grabs, as France’s Total has another 20 per cent in the project and Novatek wants to keep 51 per cent for itself.

The Yamal field has proven and probable reserves of 907 billion cubic metres of natural gas as of December 31, 2012.

India has made few inroads in the Russian energy market after OVL acquired a 20 per cent stake in the Sakhalin-1 hydrocarbon block for $1.7 billion in 2001. Imperial Energy, which OVL bought in 2009, has proved a liability, as production keeps falling, with a further 17 per cent decline to 5,12,900 tonnes planned for this year.

Two years ago, Indian energy companies signed four preliminary deals with Russia’s Gazprom for annual supplies of up to 10 million tonnes of LNG for up to 25 years. But so far only one deal has been firmed up, with GAIL India signing a 20-year contract with Gazprom last October for the supply 2.5 million tonnes of LNG.

India also seeks a stake in Sakhalin-3 oil and gas project and in an LNG project Gazprom plans to build in Vladivostok.

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