MOSCOW, October 25 (RIA Novosti) - Alexei Miller, Chief Executive of the Russian natural gas giant Gazprom, and Proshanto Banerjee, CEO of Gas Authority of India Ltd. (GAIL), an Indian government-owned company involved with the transportation of gas, are planning to sign a cooperation agreement shortly.

According to a Gazprom press release, at their meeting Monday Messrs. Miller and Banerjee examined cooperation options in tapping India's oil and gas reserves and developing its gas transportation infrastructure. They also considered some of the issues related to the implementation of the product sharing agreement on an Indian gasfield in the Bay of Bengal. This agreement had been signed between the two companies and the government of India.

Also today, the Gazprom CEO had a meeting with the Indian Minister of Gas and Petroleum, Mani Shankar Aiyar. The sides discussed prospects for Russo-Indian cooperation in the various segments of the oil and gas industry. The two officials agreed it was necessary to step up Gazprom's cooperation with oil and gas companies of India, such as GAIL and ONGC, in tapping that country's oil and gas reserves, developing its gas transportation infrastructure, including underground storages, and implementing projects to supply natural gas. The execution of the product sharing agreement on Indian deep-water gas reserves in the Bay of Bengal also came under consideration. According to Miller, Gazprom operations in this offshore gasfield are part of the company's globalization strategy.

"Globalization implies the existence of a complete cycle production and distribution chain in more than one continent. We are now involved in a whole number of hydrocarbon reserves development projects overseas. India figures prominently among these projects. We intend to expand our activity in that region further," the Gazprom press office quotes Miller as saying.

Gas Authority of India Ltd. is a leading Indian company involved with the transportation and distribution of natural gas. It controls some 95 percent of the sector's infrastructure.

The product sharing agreement on India's offshore gasfield in the Bay of Bengal was signed on October 4, 2000, between GAIL, Gazprom, and the Indian Oil and Gas Ministry. It provides for joint exploration, recovery and distribution of the deposit's hydrocarbons. The recoverable fuel reserves, believed to lie 4,000 to 6,500 meters below the sea level, total an estimated 248 to 376 million tons, including 319 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 37.6 million tons of gas condensate, and 18.8 million tons of crude oil. The exploration program is designed for a seven-year period.

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