India’s ONGC evaluating stake buy in Russia’s Vostok Oil project
India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corp ONGC.NS is evaluating the purchase of stake in Russia’s massive Vostok Oil project, a company official said on Thursday, as the two countries seek to deepen their economic ties in the energy sector.
Vostok is one of Russia’s biggest oil projects, comparable in size with the exploration of West Siberia in the 1970s or the U.S. Bakken oil province over the past decade.
“We are still in the evaluation stage … We are looking at it (Vostok Oil), it is a very large complex project,” A.K, Gupta, managing director of ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas investment arm of ONGC, told Reuters.
He did not give any further details on the deal.
Russian oil major Rosneft ROSN.MM is in talks with several players about participation in Vostok, which according to initial estimates could require the investment of more than 10 trillion roubles ($137 billion).
Global commodities trader Trafigura has a 10% stake in Vostok Oil and a consortium of traders Vitol and Mercantile & Maritime have shown interest in taking a 5% stake in the project.
Indian Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, who is in Russia for an economic forum, met Russian Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov and Rosneft chief Igor Sechin. The forum in the Russian Pacific port of Vladivostok was also attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Look forward to further strengthening strategic cooperation across the entire value chain of the energy sector with Russia,” the Indian minister said on Twitter after meeting Shulginov.
Gupta said Russia was a “preferred destination” for energy investment by India.
ONGC Videsh owns 26% stake in Russia’s Vankor field and a 20% stake in Sakhalin-1 project. In 2009, it acquired Imperial Energy, an independent exploration and production company in Russia.
Russia aims to begin shipping oil from the planned Vostok project in 2024 via the Northern Sea Route, an alternative to the Suez Canal which shortens travels to markets in Asia.
Vostok Oil consists of the Vankor cluster, the West-Irkinsky area, the Payakha group of fields and the East-Taimyr cluster.
Source: Reuters (Writing by Nidhi Verma; editing by David Evans)