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Russia backs Indian interest in Sakhalin-III

Russia backed India's interest in the Sakhalin-III oil exploration block, though no official offer has been made yet.

India is keen on bagging the field, off Russia's Pacific coast, and there has been a forward movement in the talks during the ongoing visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin on this issue, well-placed sources said.

The issue of energy security and India's expanding cooperation with Russia in the hydrocarbon sector figured in the discussions between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Russian president here Thursday.

India already has a stake in Sakhalin-I project and the first shipment of oil from this project came in December last year.

US majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron were part of a consortium, which won a preliminary bid to develop the big Sakhalin-III field. But the consortium was later dissolved. Now Russia is seeking to auction the deposit again.

It has already awarded rights to a consortium of China's Sinopec and Russia's state-owned company Rosneft to develop smaller fields within Sakhalin-III.

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said Wednesday that the Indian government would ask Russia for a stake in Sakhalin-III project.

Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC), a government-owned Indian company, has 20 percent stake in Sakhalin-1.

© Indo-Asian News Service

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