India has raised with Venezuela the issue of past dues of $530 million-$600 million payable to its oil equity and the possibility of settling them by means of a barter deal, official sources said Friday.
Indian oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan discussed the issue during a meeting with visiting Venezuelan oil minister Eulogio del Pino.
Pino, part of a delegation led by Venezuelan foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez, is on a visit to India, which ends Friday.
ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of state-owned upstream major Oil and Natural Gas Corp, has a 40% stake in the San Cristobal oilfield in Venezuela. The dues included its accumulated share of oil sales.
In 2008, OVL invested around $190 million in the project in which Venezuela's state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA holds a 51% stake.
OVL and state-run Indian Oil Corp. also have a stake at Carabodo-1 project, around 440 km (273 miles) southeast of Caracas.
Issues of sourcing of crude and a mechanism for registering state-owned Indian oil and gas companies, the status of the two upstream projects in which Indian companies have stakes, the possibility of more oil exploration-related ties on an intergovernmental basis also figured during the discussion, an official statement by the Indian oil ministry said after the delegation-level meeting on Thursday.
The possibility of settling the outstanding oil equity dues through barter deals with cash-strapped Venezuela also figured at the meeting, sources said. Pino remained non-committal on an immediate settlement of the dues issue at the meeting, they added.
Venezuela was the third-largest crude supplier to India over January-May, according to S&P Global Platts estimates.
But the share has fallen over that period because Venezuela's economic situation has deteriorated, resulting in a fall in crude output.
In fiscal 2015-16 (April-May), India imported 23.6 million mt of crude from Venezuela, 12% of the total, the minister said. According to Platts estimates, the proportion was 11.5% in January-May compared with 12.75% a year earlier.
Before arriving in the Indian capital, Pino was in Tehran last weekend to explore a possibility of cooperation with Venezuela's fellow OPEC members before the group holds an informal meeting over September 26-28 in Algeria.
During the course of discussion with Indian oil minister, the Venezuelan delegation termed the Iranian position on the global oil price scenario as "tough," sources added.