In a major boost to India’s efforts on energy security, President Putin has assured his support for ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) taking 20 per cent stake in the Sakhalin-III project in Russia.
India has already invested $2.7 billion in the Sakhalin I oil fields to take 20 per cent stake in the project. India will get an estimated 2.5 million barrels of crude oil annually from the oilfields.
Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said Putin had assured “Russia’s support and assistance” to Sakhalin-III and said the matter came up for discussion during the visiting president’s meeting with Sonia Gandhi.
Earlier in the day, Russian oil company Roseneft and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) signed an MoU to expand their relationship in oil exploration projects in Russia, India and other countries.
Addressing a session of CEOs from both countries, Putin said the Russian government was willing to make the existing rupee-rouble trade regime more liberal to allow trading of non-traditional goods. “The present rupee-rouble debt regime is restricted to certain commodities such as tea. We would look at making it more liberal to include other goods as well,” he said.
He also said Moscow was willing to give a push to inter-bank cooperation between the countries and would consider allowing Indian banks to set up subsidiaries in Russia.
Putin asked Indian companies to take advantage of an increasingly globalised market economy for selling goods produced in India in Russian markets. “We are not certain whether India can supply non-traditional goods. Come to the market and prove that Indian goods are no second to any other good. The conditions for market economy are prevalent in Russia,” he said.
India and Russia set a bilateral trade target of $10 billion by 2010 from the current level of $3 billion. “The development of trade between India and Russia has been hindered by high transportation cost,” he said. Putin also complimented India on maintaining a growth rate of more than 7 per cent while keeping the inflation rate under 5 per cent for a sustained period of time.