ONGC Seeks Russian Crude Share Amid Shipping Hurdles

01 Sep 2023

The head of ONGC's overseas investment arm, ONGC Videsh, revealed that the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp has aspirations to eventually secure a portion of crude oil from a Russian project in which it holds partial ownership. However, due to the current challenges in shipping Russian oil, the company is prepared to exercise patience. ONGC Videsh CEO Rajarshi Gupta explained that Russian oil transport is currently problematic, citing the restrictions and price constraints associated with it. As a result, ONGC Videsh is open to letting others manage these complexities temporarily while they work on resolving the situation.

Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin removed Exxon Mobil's subsidiary as the operator of the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project in Russia's Far East and transferred control to a new operator. ONGC Videsh has since reclaimed its 20% stake in the project and is engaged in discussions with Russian government officials and project shareholders to recommence oil extraction under a production-sharing agreement.

Gupta expressed a preference for being able to extract and market their own oil, but acknowledged the current difficulties associated with Russian oil, including sanctions related to the Ukraine conflict, insurance challenges, and price caps. These factors have made it challenging to transport Russian oil.

The discussions with Russian stakeholders and other project participants are expected to take approximately six months to conclude. The Sakhalin-1 project currently produces around 200,000 barrels of oil per day and involves other shareholders such as Japan's Sodeco and Russia's Rosneft. Despite ONGC's existing investments in three Russian projects, the company is not actively seeking further investments in Russia at this time. Gupta noted that the market conditions are uncertain due to ongoing developments in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

ONGC is a significant contributor to India's oil and gas production, accounting for approximately two-thirds of the country's oil production and 58% of its gas output. India largely relies on imports for its oil and gas needs. Recent government data revealed that India's crude oil imports have declined for the third consecutive month in August, primarily due to maintenance activities and reduced shipments from Russia, the world's third-largest oil importer.

See also:
ONGC invests Rs 150 bn in OPaL, GAIL to take control
ONGC commits up to Rs 2 Tn investment for emission targets

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