REUTERS - Indian state-owned oil company ONGC (NSI:ONGC.NS - News) is interested in exploring for oil and gas in the Arctic offshore with Russian partners, leaders of the two countries said after summit talks in Moscow on Monday.
The two sides will study the possibility of pumping Russian oil and gas by pipeline to India, while agreeing on the significance of supplying Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India.
A joint statement, issued after President Vladimir Putin hosted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Kremlin, contained no energy breakthroughs, however.
India has struggled to expand its upstream foothold in Russia, despite a security relationship dating back to the Cold War and the two countries' membership in the BRICS caucus of emerging economies that includes India, Brazil and South Africa.
ONGC's overseas arm is a partner in the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project, which is operated by a unit of Exxon Mobil (NYS:XOM - News). State oil major Rosneft (MCX:ROSN.ME - News), another Sakhalin-1 partner, is lobbying for the right to export LNG to Asia-Pacific buyers.
Rosneft and Exxon have announced plans to build a $15 billion LNG plant to process Sakhalin-1 gas, to be launched in 2018 with an initial capacity of 5 million tonnes per year.
Russia estimates its offshore oil resources at 100 billion tonnes, which would be enough to satisfy global demand for 25 years at current levels of consumption.
Rosneft already has agreements with ExxonMobil (NYS:XOM - News), Eni (MIL:ENI.MI - News) and Statoil (OSL:STL.OL - News) to explore for Arctic deposits. These projects are unlikely to produce any oil or gas before the 2020s.
Both leaders' post-meeting comments sidestepped oil and gas matters, while Singh expressed optimism that the second unit of a Russian-built nuclear power station in Kudankulum will be built next year.
Putin said that the first phase of Kudankulum, built under an agreement first signed in 1988 - before the collapse of the Soviet Union - should be connected to India's power grid "in a few hours".
The leaders also said that the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, to be renamed INS Vikramaditya, would be commissioned soon. Its acquisition is part of India's effort to build up its navy as China expands its maritime reach.
(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; writing by Katya Golubkova; editing by Douglas Busvine and Jason Neely)