Stage is getting set for the visit of President of Colombia Iván Duque towards the end of March-early April to India. This will be one of the first visits of a top leader from the South American region this year.
Last October the Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez visited India accompanied by a big official and business delegation. And the focus of the visit was on deeper cooperation in several sectors including joint vaccines production of vaccines for various diseases as well as for COVID-19, space sector, opportunities in the Indo-Pacific, auto-sector especially e-vehicles and most importantly women entrepreneurs.
Ambassador of Colombia to India, Ms Mariana Pacheco Montes confirmed the visit of President Duque to Financial Express in an exclusive interaction. “Yes. Our President will be visiting India early April and dates are in the process of being firmed up.”
The President of the South American nation will be accompanied by a high level official delegation and will have meetings with the top leadership of India. In 2019, both countries celebrated their 60 years of establishment of diplomatic relations.
Energy Security is one of the most important issues that will be on the agenda of talks between the top leaderships of the two countries. Over the next few years, India is working towards increasing its crude imports from Latin American nations to over 50 percent.
Oil companies from both sides have already identified four areas of cooperation in the oil sector: looking for more oil in the country; activities of refining; exploration and production of oil; processing and purification of hydrocarbons. Increasing cooperation in healthcare including joint production of vaccines and other pharmaceutical products.
Also, countries in the region emerging as an essential supplier of raw materials could be tapped by India to meet its feedstock demand and food security. India and Colombia have identified various sectors for expansion of bilateral trade and investment — pharmaceuticals, agriculture, automobiles, IT, Start-ups, urban planning & development.
Last December a shipment of coal dispatched by the Agencia nacional de minera – Colombian Mining Agency (ANM) reached India. This shipment by the Agencia nacional de minera – Colombian Mining Agency (ANM) was sent to help India when it was facing a coal shortage.
Since India has been tapping other markets to meet its energy requirements, Colombia is one of the countries in the region from where it has been sourcing oil to meet its demands.
Currently, around 50 percent of Colombia’s largest company Ecopetrol crude oil sales are exported to Asia, with China and India being the main clients in the region. According to the company, in the last decade, exports to India have increased by 125 percent.
In 2021, more than 25 million oil barrels were exported to India which has positioned it as the third most important destination for Ecopetrol’s exports with around 19 percent of external crude oil sales.
“Through the incorporation of our first commercial office outside Colombia in Singapore, we seek to be part of the Asian energy trading ecosystem, where our exports have grown exponentially in the last decade. We want to take full advantage of the business opportunities offered by this market and be closer to our customers in that continent. In India, we aim to increase synergies with private companies and seek new options with state-owned refineries,” says Felipe Bayon, president of the Ecopetrol Group.
Ecopetrol Group became the first company in the oil and gas industry in Latin America to commit to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in order to contribute to the goals of the Paris Agreement and Colombia’s objective of reducing 51 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
ONGC Videsh made its first successful foray into the hydrocarbon sector of Colombia in 2006 by way of strategic acquisition of Omimex de Colombia, a subsidiary of Omimex Resources Inc. USA, through a joint venture company, Mansarovar Energy Colombia Limited (MECL). It was incorporated in Bermuda and is a 50:50 Joint Venture between ONGC Amazon Alaknanda Limited (100% subsidiary of ONGC Videsh) and Sinopec International Petroleum E&P Hong Kong Overseas Limited. All the company’s operations are conducted through its branch at Bogota (Colombia).
MECL assets consisted of a 100 percent interest in light oil Velasquez free mineral property, 50 percent interest in Nare Association Contract, which expired last year on 4th November. MECL also holds 100 percent interest in a 187 KM long Velasquez-Galan pipeline, running from Velasquez to Ecopetrol’s Barrancabermeja refinery, having a transport capacity of 50,000 bbl/day.
According to ONGC Videsh it holds 50 percent PI along with Canacol Energy (operator) in another exploration block SSJN 7. “And seismic studies have been completed and an exploration well is planned to be drilled by Canacol Energy by mid-2022. The proposed well holds good promise after seismic studies and success in the block will further augment the development of the local community and Municipality.”