When state-owned ONGC-Videsh had decided to go for equity participation by pumping in $2.7 billion in the inhospitable Sakhalin Island in Russian Far East in 2001 in a challenging off-shore project, many thought money would go down the drain.
The project was declared a success five years later when Vyacheslav I. Trubnikov, then Russian ambassador to India, handed over a decanter of crude oil from the Sakhalin-I project to then petroleum minister Murali Deora on December 2, 2006.
ExxonMobil was the operator of the Sakhalin-1 project and the chief executive officer of the firm, Rex Tillerson, will be the new US secretary of state, the topmost diplomat of the country. President elect Donald Trump choosing him for the sensitive job might have sparked debate in the US over his association with the Russians. But this connection made many Indians interact with him over the years.
It was Tillerson who had proposed to bring Russian giant Rosnef into the project in his capacity then as the lead executive of the firm in Moscow.
“….Technologically, it is a marvel. Resources that were discovered in the 1970s had to wait for the technical and engineering solutions to commercialise them and add them to the global energy supply,” Tillerson said about Sakhalin-1 project.
“Investing that kind of money in Sakhalin-1 was very daring then. But it was Tillerson who made the project happen in many ways. So some of the Indian officials from the ONGC met and interacted with him over the years”, said an Indian official.
Other than OVL, Exxon and Rosneft Japan’s SODECO was part of the project.
Sources said judging Tillerson by what he has earlier role as a CEO is not the way to make assessments about he as the future secretary of state.
A source said the India-US relationship for years now has enjoyed bi-partisan support and the next administration is likely to continue with the same trajectory.