This is one instance where I wish I were wrong — when I wrote in mid-April warning that China might steal from Indian hands its almost-done deal to buy the Conoco stakes worth $5 billion in the Kashagan oil fields in Kazakhstan.
In end-April, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid visited Kazakhstan and reportedly discussed cooperation in the field of oil and gas with his counterpart Erlan Indrissov and President Nurusultan Nazarbayev, but the Kazakh leadership apparently ignored the Indian demarche and decided to elbow out ONGC from the Kashagar deal and to hand over the stake instead to China National Petroleum Corporation.
Not a terribly friendly gesture, isn’t it? What rankles is that the American side was keen to sell the stake to the ONGC but the Kazakhs blocked it to ensure the stake went to China.
A report by the US-funded Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty highlights that the Indian leadership didn’t take interest in the matter. Maybe, because it involved only a lowly fellow such as ONGC — and not some high flier like Reliance? One can never tell how India’s “energy diplomacy” works under the UPA government.
To be sure, there is no dearth of Indian VIP visits to the Central Asian capitals. But at the end of the day, what do they achieve? China, on the other hand, works according to a master plan. Read my article titled “Dragon dance on Central Asia’s energy turf” in the latest issue of Russia & India REPORT.
Posted in Diplomacy.
– July 2, 2013