India’s Energy Office in Moscow a boost to oil diplomacy

By Shweta Aggarwal

Ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India later this year, India has opened an “energy office” in Moscow that will house five top Indian energy PSUs. The five main Indian energy PSUs which will work from their office in the landmark Federation Tower include ONGC VIDESH Limited, Indian Oil Corp, GAIL (India), Oil India Limited, and Engineers India.The office was inaugurated recently during the presence ofSecretary, India’s Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Tarun Kapoor, India’sAmbassador to Russia D.Bala Venkatesh Varma and Russia’s Deputy Minister of Energy Pavel Sorokin.

“We already have a big collaboration with the Russian federation. Big investments have been made by Indian companies in Russia, and big investments have been made by Russian companies in India. Bilateral trade has also grown,” said Mr Kapoor.The setting up of energy office will help the two strategic partners to realise their vision of an energy bridge spanning the two countries.

Terming the opening of the energy office “a huge step in our energy future,” the Indian envoy to Russia underlined that energy vertical is now one of the most promising pillars ofspecial and privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia. “India stands firmly with Russia in promoting its energy security and this is a strong message we want to give, including via the opening of this office,” he said.

Mr Sorokin hoped that “it will be a new step and open the flow of investments in the country which is already in tens of billions of dollars.”“Russia’s importance in India’s energy security will continue to grow from strength to strength. The opening of the energy office is important as President Putin is expected to visit India later this year for the annual India Russia summit and for the BRICS summit,” said Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network and India and the World magazine.

India hopes that enhanced energy supply from Russia will not only offer an alternative for to reduce dependence on West Asian suppliers, but also provide more leverage with other producers of oil and gas.Bilateral energy ties have revolved around Indian companies investing about $15 billion in several Russian oil fields and an LNG deal with Gazprom. Rosneft-led consortium bought a refinery in Gujarat for $13 billion.

Russia has expressed its readiness to participate in major infrastructure projects in India. India-Russia ties have long witnessed close cooperation in strategic fields like defence, oil and gas, nuclear energy, space, and science and technology. An India-Russia Green Corridor will be established soon.

(With inputs from Palak Chhabra)

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