India oil groups sign deals with Russia's Rosneft

16th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

A group of Indian state-run energy firms Wednesday announced a string of deals with Russian giant Rosneft for stakes in Siberian oil fields, as the two countries seek to step up energy cooperation.

India's oil and gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan met Igor Sechin, the head of state-owned Rosneft who is considered a close ally of Vladimir Putin, for the signing of the agreements.

The deals are worth an estimated $4.2 billion, Press Trust of India said, citing unnamed officials.

"The signed documents literally mark the turning of a new leaf in the cooperation between Russia and India in the energy sector," Sechin said in a statement.

India imports around 80 percent of its oil needs and is keen to take advantage of low crude prices by signing overseas deals that will help secure supplies, to meet its growing demand.

Russia has been hit badly by recession, exacerbated by the steep drop in oil prices and Western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis, and sees India as an attractive market.

An Indian group comprising Oil India, Indian Oil Corporation and Bharat PetroResources signed a deal to acquire a 29.9 percent stake in Rosneft's Taas-Yuryakh oil project.

The consortium also signed an initial, non-binding Heads of Agreement for a 23.9 percent share in Vankorneft, a Rosneft subsidiary that runs its huge Vankor field in Siberia.

And the overseas arm of India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), which earlier agreed a deal for a 15 percent share in Vankorneft, signed a memorandum of understanding to raise that stake to 26 percent.

Indian oil minister Pradhan said the agreements were "a remarkable achievement".

"It is of prime importance that the cooperation is of a long-term nature and it will deliver significant multiplicative effect for the economies of both countries," he said in a statement.

India is also looking to develop its domestic hydrocarbon resources and has outlined policy changes to boost investment in gas and oil exploration in recent weeks.

Oil minister Pradhan told the Financial Times this week in an interview that the changes would unlock $40 billion in hydrocarbons and attract some $25 billion in investment.

© 2016 AFP

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