India, Brazil to swap hydrocarbon assets


New Delhi : India and Brazil Monday signed an agreement to swap their offshore hydrocarbon assets that will mark the entry of Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras) to India and an increased presence of Indian oil firms there.

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"The agreement is the culmination of a memorandum of understanding we had signed with Petrobras in September 2006," R.S. Sharma, chairman of the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), said after signing the agreement.

"We are pleased to join hands with Petrobras as it broadens our portfolio in Latin America. We look forward to partnering with Petrobras, one of the most renowned companies in deepwater operations," he said.

"We strongly believe the expertise of Petrobras in Deepwaters will be utilized in the development of our offshore blocks in India."

The agreement was signed by ONGC Videsh CEO R.S. Butola and Petrobras president Jose Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

ONGC officials said Petrobras had transferred 15 percent interest in an offshore block in Brazil in favour of ONGC Videsh last year and had waived its rights in favour of the Indian company.

"Thereafter, the two companies had entered into a memorandum of understanding to jointly participate in the oil and gas exploration not only in Brazil and India but also in third countries," an official explained.

"Today's agreement is a first step towards the strategic partnership," he added.

"India was always a strategic country for us. We are extremely pleased at the development. The nature of this deal emphasizes the strength of our relationship with ONGC and our belief in the Indian story," de Azevedo said.