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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 19 New Delhi April 30, 2016

Brightening Prospects of Indo-Russian Cooperation in Oil and Gas

Saturday 30 April 2016

by Hasan Hamidullah

Moscow is seeking to decrease the dependence of its oil and gas industry on the West and for that purpose Russian energy companies are in search of new reliable partners and investors. The principal objective of the visit of the head of Russia’s major national oil giant, Rosneft, to India has been to tie up the OVL, Oil India Limited, Indian Oil Corporation and Bharat Petroleum in drilling operations in the zone of the Russian Arctic.

Western sanctions against Russia have provided a unique chance to Indian oil and gas companies to gain a foothold in projects that were previously inaccessible. And this gives the Government of India the rare possibility to ensure energy security.

This also opens up before Indian companies a real opportunity to get a lead in the race with China for the Arctic minerals and hydrocarbons. What cannot be overlooked is the fact that while New Delhi is still cogitating over whether or not to collaborate with Moscow on this score—perhaps out of deference to Western (read US) “sensitivities”—Beijing is busy stealing a march over this country by entering all the major Russian regional oil and gas projects thereby reaping considerable benefits from Western sanctions.

There is also another prospect for India: it could support Russian claims to the 1250-mile underwater Lomonosov Ridge in the United Nations Commission on Limitation of Conti-nental Shelf (CLCS) and other international organisations for the vast span of the Arctic Ocean which has 40 per cent of confirmed oil and gas deposits. For India, this will unveil first-hand exploration of these resources.