Enhancing cooperation in oil, gas sector to be major focus of PM’s Russia visit


File photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (PTI Photo)

File photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (PTI Photo)

India and Russia are expected to firm up a five-year roadmap for deeper cooperation in the oil and gas sector apart from sealing a raft of agreements in several key areas during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to the Russian city of Vladivostok beginning Wednesday.

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, briefing reporters on Modi’s visit, said the possibility of opening a maritime route, connecting Chennai with Vladivostok, will also be explored as it could link Europe as well through the arctic route.

Gokhale, explaining new areas of cooperation, said India is also looking at cooperation in the farming sector besides exploring the possibility of sending skilled manpower to Russia.

Replying to a question, the foreign secretary said Russia fully supports India on the Kashmir issue and on its concerns over cross-border terrorism.

In Vladivostok, Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold the 20th India-Russia annual summit on September 4.

The prime minister and the Russian president will make a joint visit to one of Russia’s major ship-building yards.

On September 5, Modi will attend the Eastern Economic Forum in as the chief guest and hold bilateral talks with several leaders on the sidelines of the event. He and Putin will visit an international judo championship in Vladivostok in which a six-member Indian team is participating, Gokhale said.

He said a number of agreements, including in the coal mining and power sectors, are expected to be firmed up during Modi’s around 36-hour visit.

Gokhale said expanding cooperation in the hydrocarbons sector will be a major focus area during the prime minister’s visit to Vladivostok.

“The prime minister has said it on a number of times that we need to bring the relationship with Russia beyond civil nuclear and defence cooperation into other areas of the economy,” he said.

The foreign secretary said both sides are expected to firm up a five-year roadmap 2019-2024 laying out possibilities of cooperation in oil and gas sector, in terms of exploration and exploitation, and purchase.

At present, India relies heavily on the Gulf region for its energy requirement. Gokhale said India is looking at Russia as a major source of hydrocarbons so as to end its complete dependency on the Gulf region.

He said some letters of intent will also be signed between Indian public sector companies and Russian entities for development of oil and gas fields in Russia.

Gokhale said India may announce investment in new oil fields in Russia and something concrete may come up on import of LNG from Russia.

He said the possibility of oil and gas supply from the Arctic will also be explored during the prime minister’s visit.

In the summit talks, the two leaders are expected to discuss a number of key regional issues, including the Afghan peace process and situation in the Gulf region.

They are also expected to explore ways to enhance cooperation while working in multilateral organisations like Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China and South Africa).