ONGC mulls bringing its Syrian oil to India

ONGC mulls bringing its Syrian oil to India

New Delhi: State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is considering shipping crude to India from a Syrian joint venture if United States (US) and European sanctions prevent sales continuing to refiners in Europe.

The European Union (EU) and the US have imposed wide-reaching sanctions against Syria, including an embargo on crude imports, to put economic pressure on President Bashar al-Assad in the hope of ending six-months of violence against anti-government demonstrations.

Syria exported 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) of total output of 370,000 bpd in July, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Most of the oil flows to Germany, Italy and France.

Three ONGC sources said on Thursday the company was “exploring the possibility" of refining the Syrian crude at a 236,400 bpd coastal refinery it runs through its subsidiary, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd , rather than cutting output at the Syrian fields.

ONGC’s share of oil from the joint venture it has in Syria with the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) is around 13,000 to 14,000 barrels per day (bpd), one source said. The sources did not say whether ONGC was considering importing only its equity share from Syria or whether it was considering taking more.

D. K. Sarraf, managing director of ONGC Videsh, the overseas investment arm of ONGC, was not immediately available for comment.

At present, India imports no crude from Syria.

The ONGC and CNPC joint venture holds a stake in Syria’s main oil producing consortium, Al Furat Petroleum Company. Furat is operated by state-run Syrian Petroleum Co. and Shell.

The venture holds a 33.3-37.5% participating interest in four production sharing contracts covering output from 36 onshore fields in Syria, according to ONGC’s website.

Output from those fields is about 83,000 bpd, and ONGC’s share of that is about 16-17%, one of the sources said.

“It makes sense to bring oil to India. It will be a win-win situation, we need oil and Syrian oil quality is good. If we get it to India there will not be any forced output cut," said one of the sources.

All declined to be identified as they were not authorized to talk to the media.

India, the world’s fourth-biggest oil importer, imports nearly 80% of the oil it consumes.

The Indian government has charged ONGC with securing energy supplies overseas to fuel the country’s fast-growing economy.