India-CIS hydrocarbon roundtable to begin Tuesday


New Delhi : A year after India courted Africa’s oil, hydrocarbon-rich Central Asian countries are now in its crosshair, as it prepares to host energy ministers and policy makers from that region for the next two days.

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Russian energy minister Sergey Shmatko will be the chief guest of the India-CIS Hydrocarbon roundtable, which will also see participation from energy minister of Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The two-day event will be inaugurated Tuesday by petroleum and natural gas minister Murli Deora and is being jointly organised by the ministry of petroleum and natural gas and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, a leading industry lobby.

As per government figures, Central Asia, including Russia, now account for 15 percent of oil exports and over 27 percent of gas exports. The estimated oil reserves is about 9 percent of the world’s total.

But its main hydrocarbon asset is natural gas, accounting for nearly 30 percent of proven gas reserves in the planet.

Except for Russia where Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has invested over $1 billion in the Sakhalin-1 oilfield, India has not been able to make much headway in the region. In an earlier foray to buy PetroKazakhstan, ONGC Videsh had been trumped by China National Petroleum Corp.

ONGC Mittal Energy Ltd (OMEL) – a joint venture between and Mittal Investments – ONGC has been in endless rounds of negotiations since 2006 with the Kazakh state oil company, KazMunaiGaz, for a share in the Satpayev oil exploration block in that country.

Recently, ONGC confirmed that it was interested in taking up stake in another Kazakhstan oil producer, MangistauMunaiGas.

According to officials, the aims of the roundtable would not just be to explore possibility of equity investment in the region by Indian companies, but also look at participation in the India’s exploration industry too, especially the annual auction of hydrocarbon assets.

Besides, as India is aiming to become a refining hub, discussions on investment in these sectors will also be held, along with possible collaborations in third countries.