On one hand, India’s growing ties with the US and on the other hand, India will play host on March 10-11 to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has often been on a collision course with the US administration. The visiting president will participate in the International Solar Alliance Summit on March 11 and also hold talks with PM Narendra Modi on the same day in what will be the first meeting between the two leaders. The meeting is expected to focus on hydro-carbon partnership as India’s energy needs continue to grow. Maduro will head to Vietnam and Indonesia from Delhi.
Under Maduro, oil-rich Venezuela’s ties with the US have touched an all-time low with Washington extending support to opposition leaders in the Latin American country. But India’s decision is shaped by its traditional balanced foreign policy approach as well as driven by pragmatism. India is one of the largest buyers of Venezuelan crude oil. State-run ONGC has plans to invest further in the San Cristobal joint venture (JV) over the coming years in order to increase production. Venezuela plans to further increase oil supply to India and is said to be in talks with Reliance Industries for a JV.
In 2005, India had signed a bilateral agreement for cooperation in the hydrocarbons sector during the visit of the then Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Venezuela had also signed an MoU offering ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) opportunities for oil and gas exploration in the country, including a heavy oil field in the Orinoco belt, following which OVL opened its office in Venezuela.
In 2008, an agreement between OVL and CVP (a subsidiary of Venezuela’s national oil company PDVSA), was signed for the creation of a joint venture called Petrolera IndoVenezolana SA for production and exploration of oil in the San Cristobal field, in which OVL has a 40% stake while PDVSA has the remaining 60%.
Report By: Nikita Goel, Convener, INBA