(EnergyAsia, August 15 2016, Monday) — Indian state oil and gas firms are waiting for an opportunity to buy into Rosneft even as they are completing the purchase of a combined 38.9% stake in an East Siberian oil field from the Russian energy giant.

India’s largest oil company ONGC is buying a 15% stake in the giant Vankor field for 81 billion rubles while a consortium comprising Oil India Ltd (OIL), Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and Bharat PetroResources Ltd has agreed to pay nearly 130 billion rubles for its 23.9% shareholding. According to Rosneft, Vankor produced 22 million tons of crude oil and 8.71 billion cubic metres of natural gas last year. The field holds 361 million tons of crude oil and 138 billion cubic metres of natural gas reserves.

The Indian consortium is also working separately to complete the purchase of a 29.9% stake in the Taas-Yuryakh oil and gas fields, also in East Siberia, for more than 80 billion rubles. (US$1=64 rubles).

India along with China, Asia’s two most populous countries facing long-term energy shortages, is keen to expand its shareholding of Russia’s hydrocarbon resources. Both view Rosneft, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, as a major prize given its huge hydrocarbon reserves holding of nearly 34 billion barrels at the end of 2014. The Moscow-based firm produced nearly 5.1 million b/d of oil and gas last year.

The proposed sale of Rosneft is a sensitive subject even if the interested buyers are deemed to be friendly to Russian geopolitical interests.

President Vladimir Putin recently revived speculation that Moscow is ready to consider a partial sale of the company as Russia struggles to keep its sanctions-hit economy growing while enhancing political alliance with the two Asian giants as pushback against the West.

Moscow is hoping to raise at least 700 billion rubles from a sale of a combined 19.5% stake in Rosneft to the state-owned firms of both countries, according to Bloomberg. (US$1=64 ruble). UK major BP is currently Rosneft’s only foreign shareholder with a 20% stake.