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The India-based Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) is looking to buy a stake in the Russian firm managing the Sakhalin-1 project, while Japan is holding talks with stakeholders to decide on the project, according to Reuters.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement to transfer operations of the ExxonMobil-led Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project to a new Russian operator.

The order authorises the government to decide the continuity of foreign shareholders in the project, in which Exxon had owned a 30% operatorship stake.

Foreign shareholders are required to decide on retaining their stakes in the project in the space of one month.

Other project partners included Rosneft affiliates RN-Astra (8.5%), the Japanese SODECO Consortium (30%) and Sakhalinmorneftegaz-Shelf (11.5%), as well as ONGC’s overseas arm ONGC Videsh (20%).

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To be managed by Rosneft subsidiary Sakhalinmorneftegaz-Shelf, the new Russian company will own investors’ rights in the Sakhalin-1 project.

Reuters quoted a source as saying: “ONGC Videsh will protect its share in the project, which means it will take a stake in the new entity.”

The sources added that ONGC would seek an additional stake in the project if it made ‘commercial sense’.

Japan will continue talks with stakeholders in SODECO to decide on future investments in the new Russian operator, as the country considers the Sakhalin-1 project to be ‘very important’.

The move follows months of deliberations between the two parties over an orderly transfer of Exxon’s stake in the Sakhalin-1 project, as reported by Reuters.

The US-based oil and gas giant had refused to accept local insurance for tankers after Western insurers withdrew due to sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Exxon’s Russian assets are estimated to be valued at more than $4bn in total.