Speech Delivered by:
Shri Dharmendra Pradhan,
Hon’ble Union Minister of Petroleum &
Natural Gas and Skill Development &
Entrepreneurship, Government of India
Date: 13 September 2018
Ambassador Mr. Gleb Aleksandrovitch Ivashentsov, Vice-President, Russia International Affairs Council;
Mr. Anatoly Kargapolov, Charge d’affaires, Embassy of the Russia Federation in India;
Ambassador Asoke Mukerji, India’s Former Permanent Representative to the United Nations;
Dr. Shakti Sinha, Director, Nehru Memorial Museum & Library;
Dr Anirban Ganguly, Director, Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning to you all.
Friends, India and Russia share a very warm, long and time tested partnership. There are several important agreements signed between our two countries, including the 1971 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, which demonstrated our shared goals of global peace and security.
I would like to remember one of India’s greatest leaders and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji today. The watershed moment in our relations was the signing of the ‘Declaration on the India-Russia Strategic Partnership’ between Prime Minister Vajpayeeji and President Putin. This was the first major political initiative signed after the dissolution of USSR. The Declaration signed in the year 2000 paved the way for our two great nations to cooperate under structured and institutionalized mechanisms. As a result of this, our Strategic Partnership has got transformed into Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership. Today, India and Russia are cooperating in all those areas that are possible for two countries to cooperate.
Friends, last year we celebrated 70 years of diplomatic ties between India and Russia. India was the Guest Country during the SPIEF economic summit in St. Petersburg and Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the event as Guest of Honour. Both adopted the historic St. Petersburg Declaration which is about the vision for the 21st century guiding our entire gamut of cooperation and friendship. Both, PM Modi and President Putin share a personal, strong and special bond. The seventy plus years of our energy relations were never as strong as they have become in the last couple of years.
Our bilateral relationship has several important aspects and strong engagements, particularly in the defence, economic, space, nuclear, trade and commerce and most importantly in the Oil and Gas sector. Former Soviet Union also helped India build dams, steel industry, power plants and also technology institutes. Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian in space, travelled on Soviet spacecraft Salyut 7.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, I would like to highlight the work we have done with Russia in last four and a half years. Our engagement in the hydrocarbon sector, including some major investments, has become one of the key pillars of our bilateral relations. Today, with the guidance of our strong leaders, we have strengthened our hydrocarbon engagement and there is an ‘Energy Bridge’ between our two countries.
While we all know about our deep relations in defence and space cooperation, very few people now about our historic relations in the sphere of hydrocarbons. It was a team of Soviet oil and gas experts who helped ONGC to explore and strike oil in Indian waters and the joint efforts led to the discovery of Bombay High, which even today remains India’s biggest oil and gas field. Soviet technology also helped us in our refining sector in 1960s and 1970s.
Prime Minister Modi and President Putin have also placed special emphasis on energy sector as a priority area in our bilateral cooperation. Russia is one of the largest producers of oil & natural gas in the world and hydrocarbon exports constitute nearly 60% of its total exports. On the other side, India is the third largest energy consumer in the world. As Russia has large hydrocarbon resources, it has the potential to become an important source to fulfill India’s requirements.
Our public sector companies have invested more than 15 billion US Dollars in acquiring oil and gas assets in strategic Russian projects, including in Sakhalin-I. In 2016, our public sector companies have acquired sizeable stakes in producing fields, i.e., Vankorneft and Taas-Yuryakh by investing over 5.5 billion US Dollars.
On the other hand, Russian company Rosneft led consortium invested nearly 13 billion US Dollars in Essar Oil in 2016. Till the recent investment of 16 billion US Dollars by Walmart in e-commerce portal Flipkart, it was the single largest FDI into India in any sector. However, it still remains the largest FDI in the Indian oil and gas sector.
Another area is import of natural gas. GAIL has contracted to import 2.5 MMTPA of LNG from Gazprom on a long-term basis. It works out to be nearly 2 billion US Dollars per annum, for coming 20 years. I had the opportunity to receive the first cargo of Russian LNG on 4th June this year at Dahej in Gujarat. The LNG supplies have commenced after the two sides successfully re-negotiated the terms of LNG contract recently, which reflects the changing LNG market dynamics. I would like to take this opportunity to thank President Putin and my Russian counterpart Mr. Alexander Novak for making this possible.
India has also embarked on the path of becoming a gas-based economy. Russian supplies will help us in meeting the objectives of price stability and energy security. It will also boost our bilateral trade figures.
Our oil and gas PSUs are continuing to explore their participation in more oil and gas projects in Russia. We are working with Russian oil and gas companies for acquisition of quality, producing blocks. Today, Russia is our largest investment destination in the oil and gas sector.
Last week I was in Surat, reviewing ONGC’s production in Gujarat. I was happy to hear that they have deployed Russian technology called Low Frequency Seismic as a substitute for 2D & 3D seismic to find out left out oil from old fields. This has increased ONGC’s production in Gujarat.
We should encourage more interactions among all the interested companies from both sides and facilitate their cooperation in taking our energy cooperation to a new level.
I believe that the reason for our strong and sustained relationship is not just because we are engaged on cooperation in various beneficial areas, but also because there is strong mutual trust and it is supported by people of both our countries. Ambassador Kanwal Sibbal and Ambassador Asoke Mukerji are here with us. They have served in Russia, and they would agree that actor and director Raj Kapoor is still remembered today in Russia. Hindi songs from Raj Kapoor’s films are still popular in Russia.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I believe and am sure you all will agree that our time tested relationship has no expiry date. Russia will always be an absolute priority in India’s foreign policy and energy policy.
Both our countries will remain as role model for harmonious partners and more importantly strong friends, not only for our mutual benefit, but also for the larger global community.
I wish organizers of this event a very grand success.