India and China vying to Grab African Crude Oil Market

The global competition to grab major share of oil market in Sudan has seen an upsurge in recent years while some of the countries such as China and India started oil exploration in the region many decades ago. In the following sections, we will look how it started and the present situation in Sudan.

 ONGC Videsh Ltd. in Sudan

Political Efforts by India to Grab Oil Market in Sudan

India started to develop its presence in Sudan during the Nehru era itself with Jawaharlal Nehru acknowledging the imminent independence of the country during the Afro-Asian Relations Conference (AARC) in 1955. Earlier M. K. Gandhi had visited Port Sudan in 1935 followed by Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi in 1938.

India also played a major role during the 1953 general elections in Sudan with chief election commissioner of India, Sukumar Sen overlooking the elections. After the 1953 elections, India also started a liaison office in the year 1955 at Khartoum.

The significance of these political efforts can be judged by the fact that by 2003, India was getting about 600,000 barrels of crude oil from its oil block developed by ONGC Videsh Ltd. in Sudan. Apart from India, another major player in the market is China and both countries fought many corporate battles as well as planned diplomatic maneuvers to become principal players in this oil market, which is considered one of the politically unstable oil markets in the world.

 Oil Purchase by India

Oil Purchase by India and Share of African Countries

If we look at the present situation, by 2013 India was importing about 4 million barrels of crude oil on daily basis and became 3rd largest crude oil importer in the world ousting Japan from the 3rd position. India is presently importing almost seventy percent of its requirement for crude oil at an expenditure of $160 billion.

In this context, it is noteworthy that India is importing about 16% of its requirement from different African countries with Nigeria being the biggest crude oil seller among the African countries. ONGC Videsh Ltd. has also obtained oil exploration blocks in countries such as Libya and Nigeria as well as stake in newly discovered gas reserves in Mozambique.

The oil fields in Sudan were first developed by Chevron, a US based company in 1970s but soon they were taken over by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL). Chevron’s intentions were to siphon off the oil to refineries in its home country while OVL and CNPC assisted Sudan develop its oil sector as well as refine crude oil on its own.

Thus, it is clear that strategic plans of India and China in terms of oil exploration and purchase have been a success in African countries and holds a lot of prospect for future growth as well.

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