India, Colombia sign MoU for cooperation in hydrocarbon sector

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New Delhi, Sept 5 : India and Colombia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in hydrocarbon sector here today.

Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Murli Deora and the visiting Colombian Minister of Energy and Mines Hernan Martinez Torres inked the MoU.

Deora said the MoU provides an umbrella framework to facilitate and enhance bilateral cooperation in this sector. The two sides have agreed to cooperate in the entire spectrum of hydrocarbon sector particularly in the areas of exploration and production of oil and gas, exchange of training and human resource development, and exchange of visits of professionals and technicians.

The Petroleum Minister also said, "We will be setting up a Joint Working Group in the hydrocarbon sector for enhancing cooperation between our two friendly countries."

Deora further underlined that despite geographical distance, India and Colombia are partners in pursuance of energy security. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Videsh Limited has a producing asset in Colombia as a joint venture with a Chinese company 'Sinopec'.

This asset has current crude oil production of 25,000 barrels per day. ONGC Videsh Limited also has three offshore exploration blocks in Colombia. OVL is the operator in two of these blocks. Deora added, "We are exploring opportunities for participation in implementing Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) and Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) projects in the existing fields of Colombia."

Torres said the MoU between Colombia and India is significant, pointing out to tremendous potential for Colombia's association with India in energy sector. This is first of a series of MoUs with Indian authorities which could be concluded between the two countries, he said, adding that similar MoU was considered in mining sector in a meeting on Thursday.

The Columbian Minister stressed that the today's MoU signing was initiation of an excellent process of cooperation between the two countries.

Earlier, the two Ministers led respective delegations during bilateral discussions. They reviewed the existing cooperation and discussed new areas of cooperation like greater participation of Indian entities in the exploration and production in Colombia, projects for improved, enhanced oil recovery from existing fields, training oil and gas sector technologists of Colombia in the excellent state-of-art facilities with Indian oil sector PSUs, production and blending of bio-fuels.

Colombia, the fifth-largest hydrocarbon rich country in South America had 1.54 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves (Oil and Gas Journal 2005). The country produces nearly 525 thousand barrels per day of oil. Colombia produced 830,000 bbl/d in 1999, and it is believed that with extensive exploration and new discoveries the production of oil in Colombia can be enhanced.

ONGC Videsh limited of India, recognizing the hydrocarbon potential of Colombia set up its first operation in 2006, through Joint acquisition of oil producing assets along with Sinopec of China. In addition, ONGC Videsh limited has also acquired three deep water offshore exploration blocks RC eight, nine and ten on the Caribbean side of Colombia.

ONGC Videsh limited currently has operation in 17 countries and its oil and gas production was nearly 8.8 MMTOE from its international projects.

Besides the two Ministers, Petroleum Secretary R.S. Pandey, CMD ONGC R.S. Sharma, CMD GAIL U.D. Choubey, CMD OIL M.R. Pasricha and CMD EIL Mukesh Rohatagi from Indian side and Dr. Jose Armando Zamora, Director General, National Hydrocarbon Agency of Colombia and Colombian Ambassador to India from Colombian side were present on the occasion.

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