ONGC Videsh hires lobby firm in US; files registration

WASHINGTON: ONGC Videsh Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of public sector giant Oil and Natural Gas Corp, has hired a specialist lobbying firm in the US to present its case before the American lawmakers. 

The lobby firm, Patton Boggs LLP, has submitted its registration with the US Senate for lobbying on behalf of 
ONGC Videsh Ltd(OVL), shows the Congressional records of lobbying disclosure reports. 

The current and anticipated 'specific lobbying issues' on which Patton Boggs would work for OVL are "issues related to ONGC Videsh oil and gas operations in India and future focus on US oil and gas market", says its registration filing submitted to the Senate's lobbying database on April 4.

The firm has named two persons, Anurag Varma and Daniel Waltz, who would work as lobbyists for its client, OVL. 

Late last year, another energy major from India, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) terminated its registration for lobbying activities in the US. Prior to that, Mukesh Ambani-led 
RILBSE 0.15 %had lobbied for years in the US through its then lobby firm, BGR. 

BGR also lobbies on behalf of the Indian government in the US, but it has not yet made its disclosure for the first quarter of 2013. 

OVL's lobby firm Patton Boggs has worked for clients like 
Lloyd's of London, Halliburton, AO Smith Corp, Air France - KLM, Amazon.com, Bristol Myers Squibb, EADS North America and Facebook. 

For ONGC Videsh, the primary business is to prospect for oil and gas acreages abroad, which includes acquisition of oil and gas fields in foreign countries as well as exploration, production, transportation and sale of oil and gas. 

OVL earlier used to operate on a small scale to carry out limited exploration activities in few countries like Iraq, Yemen, Sri Lanka and Tanzania, but it started expanding in a major way from late 1990s with overseas acquisitions and exploration activities. 

Currently, it has presence in 27 projects in 14 countries of which 9 projects are operated by OVL, 7 projects are jointly operated and 12 projects are non-operated. 

Earlier this year, another Indian firm, Devas Multimedia, also filed its lobbying registration with the Senate and it intends to lobby on "trade and investment issues related to India". 

Among others, Sterling Biotech has disclosed having spent USD 20,000 on its lobbying in the US during the first quarter of 2013, while software industry body Nasscom has incurred lobbying expenses of USD 30,000 for the same period. 

Another Indian entity, Carpet Export Promotion Council has disclosed that there was no lobbying activity on its behalf in Q1.