India asks Nigeria for more crude

January 26th, 2010 - 10:34 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 26 (IANS) India has asked Nigeria for more help in procuring crude, even as it promised to resolve outstanding issues related to its existing oil blocks.
Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora, who is on a four-nation trip to Africa along with heads of major public sector oil and gas companies, Monday held talks with Nigerian Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Henry Odein Ajumogobia on reaching Nigeria, according to an official release Tuesday.

The special advisor to the Nigeran president on petroleum matters, Emmanual Egogah was also present at the meeting.

According to the release, India which already imports 10 percent of its oil requirement from Nigeria, expressed “interest to procure more crude from Nigeria”.

In turn, Indian Oil Corporation, India’s largest refiner, has offered to assist in refinery upgradation, imparting training to technical personal and providing consultancy in the downstream sector. “The Nigerian side said that it is a priority area for them and would look forward to cooperation in this sector,” said the press note.

The Nigerian minister pointed out that his country had a new petroleum bill which will aim to orient oil exploration companies towards community development in their areas of operation. Egogah also emphasised that the local community needed to have stake in the development and appreciated the model of Indian companies.

Deora noted that ONGC Videsh Limited had set up Nigeria’s first Geological and Geo-physical centre. He hoped that Indian companies will get more opportunities to invest in Nigeria when the new bill becomes an act.

The other important issue was the status of the two exploration blocks, OPL 279 and OPL 285, operated by a joint venture company, ONGC Mittal Energy Ltd. “It was informed in the meeting to the Nigerians that the exploration is on track and that Government of India has recently approved OVL’s share of investments of $359 million. It was also informed that one well has been spudded”.

The Indian delegation sought assistance in resolution of issues relating to repayments in respect of another block.”It was informed that the Steering Committee meeting would take place in about two days’ time to settle outstanding issues,” said the press release.

Meanwhile, GAIL India Ltd has been shortlisted as one of the fifteen companies qualified to participate in $30 billion National Gas Master Development Plan and its implementation.

The Indian side at the meeting hightlighted GAIL’s strength and expertise in the sector.

“GAIL expressed its interest in setting up of petrochemical plants, LPG plants and LPG transportation pipelines in which they have very strong technical and managerial expertise. As Nigeria is embarking on its development of natural gas resources which are currently underutilised, this offer was received with a great deal of interest,” the release added.

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