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News and Press ReleasesMEA wants ONGC Videsh Ltd to go easy on Sudan defaults

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MEA wants ONGC Videsh Ltd to go easy on Sudan defaults

11-03-2013, 07:48 PM
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MEA wants ONGC Videsh Ltd to go easy on Sudan defaults

    MEA wants ONGC Videsh Ltd to go easy on Sudan defaults


    Sanjay Dutta and Indrani Bagchi, TNN | Nov 2, 2013, 09.47PM IST
    NEW DELHI: The ministry of external affairs (MEA) has asked ONGC Videsh Ltd to be more patient in dealing with payment defaults by Sudan where India's flagship firm for oil and gas asset acquisitions abroad has stakes in oil fields and has built an oil pipeline.


    ONGC Videsh had invoked the sovereign guarantee given by the Sudanese government after it defaulted on payment of four installments in connection with a multi-product pipeline built by the company. The firm also claimed payment of over Rs 99 crore under a political risk insurance cover it had taken.

    While the Sudanese government has not responded to the invocation of the government guarantee, the government there has at various levels of diplomatic engagements with India explained that the default was not wilful and it intended to clear the dues.


    This perhaps explains why the MEA appears to be upset with ONGC Videsh's action. Sudan is no ordinary country. Not only is it an important source of oil, it is burdened by huge international sanctions because it continues to have terror links.

    ONGC Videsh is part owner of the Greater Nile Project along with CNPC of China, which is well ahead of India in peddling influence in Sudan. But India wants to win a place for itself by making efforts to be a better partner than China. Hence, the MEA decision to give Khartoum more time to repay the money to New Delhi.

    "We should show some more patience to the Government of Sudan ... as it would have repercussions on our engagement with that country in the oil sector... Sudan is ready to show its positive intention by paying one installment in addition to returning excess oil it had over lifted earlier. Our ambassador has also suggested OVL should look at the possibility of converting our investment of $100 million in the multi-product pipeline into equity of the company that Government of Sudan is expected to create by 2015," the MEA urged ONGC Videsh.

    Altogether, Sudan has defaulted on four installments that were due in June and December 2011 and 2012. But MEA has asked ONGC Videsh not to act on its own and route any action through it.

    ONGC Videsh executives said they had to invoke the sovereign guarantee as not acting on the defaults would have been against norms of good corporate governance and would have drawn flak from the Indian government's audit and other oversight bodies.
                  

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