Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Mar 05, 2005
Industry & Economy
India keen on stake in Venezuelan oil, gas fields: Aiyar
New Delhi , March 4
INDIA is eyeing stakes in oil and gas fields in Venezuela while exploring the possibility of importing crude oil from the Latin American country, the Union Petroleum Minister, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, said here on Friday.
After withdrawing from its earlier stand to offer six exploration blocks to India, Venezuela has now expressed its intent to make available the on-shore discovered field San Cristobal in eastern Venezuela to India.
Mr Aiyar and the visiting Venezuelan President, Mr Hugo Chavez, on Friday discussed the participation of Indian public sector firms in the on-shore discovered field San Cristobal, and two gas fields on the offshore by taking a stake of 49 per cent.
"The Venezuelan President said block San Cristobal can be made available to us. We have shown our interest and want the joint cooperation agreement, the two sides are to sign tomorrow (Saturday), to reflect Venezuela's commitment," Mr Aiyar said after a 75-minute meeting with Mr Chavez here.
Venezuela has also offered the offshore exploration Block 5 and two gas blocks, but Indian firms would have to compete with other bidders to win the deal.
"Venezuela is our arrowhead in Latin America," Mr Aiyar said. Caracus is also keen on entering into a government-to-government crude oil supply contract.
"The Venezuelan President informed that our perception that the crude they produce is mostly heavy (high in sulphur) is incorrect. They have other grades. Mangalore refinery can process Venezuelan crude and we will assess if other grades of Venezuelan crude oil can be processed at other refineries," he said.
India and Venezuela are seeking closer cooperation in several sectors, including hydrocarbons, infrastructure and biotechnology.
"Venezuela looks upon India as an important upcoming partner in hydrocarbon sector and we want to strengthen ties with mutual investments," Mr Aiyar said.
Indian firms will also explore the possibility of increasing production from marginal fields in Venezuela through Enhanced Oil Recovery and Improved Oil Recovery techniques.
The Latin American country had last year offered ONGC Videsh Ltd, the foreign arm of Oil and Natural Gas Corp, six oil fields for exploration and production. However, the offer did not materialise.
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