In a move to attain energy security, Indian energy firms ONGC and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) are eyeing more projects in Colombia.
Currently, Mansarovar Energy Colombia, a joint venture formed by ONGC and Chinese oil firm Sinopec, is engaged in the exploration, development and production of oil and natural gas in Colombia.
Diplomatic sources told FE that a joint working group is meeting shortly to discuss the expansion of energy cooperation between the nations. ONGC chairman and managing director D K Sarraf is believed to have held preliminary talks with Colombian executives.
In addition, IOC, which is commissioning a 15 million tonne per annum (mtpa) greenfield refinery in Paradip, is scouting for crude supplies. The refinery is expected to be fully commissioned by the later half of 2016 and is capable of processing heavy crudes. Colombia, which has emerged as a new source for crude oil exports in recent times, could look at long term deals with IOC for supplying crude to Paradip, sources indicated.
Industry watchers say that India is planning to increase crude oil imports from Colombia by 20-30%. Earlier this year, petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan discussed the matter with his Colombian counterpart. Pradhan had met with minister of mines and energy Tomás González Estrada and other senior officials in Bogota.
ONGC Videsh, which currently holds seven blocks in Colombia, intends to expand its presence in the country.
Pradhan had also visited oil fields where Indian firms have stakes.
Currently, India imports about 60% of its total crude oil needs from Arab nations and 20% from Latin America. India plans to increase the imports from Latin American nations to 50% over the next five years. At present, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia supply large amounts of oil to India.
India has identified four areas of cooperation between Colombian and domestic companies: Exploration and production of oil; refining, processing and purification of hydrocarbons; and looking for more oil in the country. The possibility of involving Indian companies in contractual services with Colombian firms in the sector was also evaluated.
According to the Colombia-India Chamber of Commerce and Industry, last year, the trade balance between both countries was $4,830 million. Also, in 2014, there was an investment of $ 95 million by Indian private companies in the country.
Last year, Colombia exported about 6.3 million metric tonne of crude, according to figures from the chamber.