Should India invest in Russia’s vast Arctic oil project?

Being a foreign service veteran, oil minister Hardeep Puri, am told, is an astute mixologist of diesel and diplomacy. Among his first intervention therefore was to soothe frayed nerves between Riyadh and New Delhi that had been simmering all summer and had even led to domestic refiners buying 36% less crude in May from its 2nd largest supplier after escalating tensions over OPEC output and rising prices for Asian buyers.

Energy diplomacy has taken Puri to Moscow this month, his maiden overseas trip since he took charge of the petroleum ministry to further strengthen old ties. Igor Sechin, chief executive of Russian oil colossus Rosneft and the second most important man after President Vladimir Putin has pitched the mega Vostok oil project to India and reportedly a consortium of Indian state owned exploration and refining companies are chalking out a plan to farm in.

We should jump right in and not let bureaucratic ennui, lack of cohesion among companies and their administrative ministries lead to yet another lost opportunity of our past that has seen vast, lucrative acreage slither out of our hands across Africa, Central Asia or even Latin America into the laps of the Chinese and other large energy guzzling economies.

In the inhospitable wastelands of the Siberian Arctic, whipped by blizzards and wrapped in polar night for six months in a year, a great game is playing out. Surrounded by thousands of kilometres of permafrost on the Taymyr peninsula in the Krasnoyarsk region the Vostok project is Putin and Sechin’s is a potential $127 billion wager for energy prosperity, as per JP Morgan estimates and rival some of the most prosperous fields around the world – Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar and the Pemian Basin of US.

ET News
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