A day after securing a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Moscow to meet its growing energy needs, India on Tuesday secured promises for securing hydrocarbons from several Russian oil fields.
In an unanticipated development, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intensive engagement in the Russian capital with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin led to understandings of immediate and long-term nature to access the vast Russian resources in eastern Siberia and far eastern Russia.
Mr. Medvedev gave an indication of enhanced partnerships in the energy sector when he observed on Monday that with the civil nuclear deal 3.0 in the bag, “we can think of working in other areas.”
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said Russia agreed to allow India to enter the Trebs and Titov oil fields in the Timan Pechora region.
ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) and Russia’s Sistema signed a memorandum of understanding to scout for oil and gas assets in Russia and other Central Asian countries. The Russian political leadership also gave a “very positive response” to India’s request to participate in the bidding for the lucrative Sakhalin-3 oil field.
With OVL having entered into tie-ups to study investment opportunities with Russian oil and gas giants Roseneft and Gazprom, Ms. Rao was confident of India obtaining sourcing rights in at least some of the projects.
In the case of Sakhalin-3, Russia told India that it was yet to take a decision on allowing foreign participation. In case such a decision is taken by the first quarter of next year (when Mr. Putin will visit India), New Delhi could take a stake in the project.
OVL now has a slice of the Sakhalin-1 and swaps oil accruing to its account with crude carriers operating in India’s vicinity.
Sistema also is no stranger to India. It is Russia’s biggest investor in the Indian telecom sector.
Its chief co-chairs the Indo-Russia CEOs Council with Reliance Industries head Mukesh Ambani.
Circumspect about the civil nuclear energy agreement 3.0 before it was inked (although officials had told The Hindu that the pact was through), Ms. Rao chose to downplay the gains from this agreement.
“This shows the growing engagement of the world community in the development of India’s civil nuclear energy programme,” she said and bracketed the pact with the ones signed with the U.S. and France.
Asked whether the spate of tie-ups with Russia in strategic sectors could impact India’s ties with the U.S., Ms. Rao pointed out that in today’s world, each relationship stood on its own.
India was reluctant to sign three military agreements with the U.S. and its talks on securing enrichment and reprocessing rights for uranium were making slower-than-anticipated progress. At the same time the U.S. had obtained about $5-billion of arms exports orders and promised contracts worth 10,000 MW in nuclear energy.
On the other hand, Russia and India agreed to further the military partnership by agreeing to join hands in producing a transport aircraft with multiple versions, buying more heavy class and naval fighters, making progress on aligning to produce a next generation fighter and closing differences over the price for the refit of aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov.
“Our ties with the U.S. do not affect the stability and solidity of our ties with Russia. They are as I said earlier rock solid,” Ms. Rao said.