India, Turkmenistan to engage in energy sectorApril 5th, 2008 - 5:31 pm ICT by admin
By Vishnu Makhijani
Ashgabat, April 5 (IANS) India and Turkmenistan, a country with vast hydrocarbon resources, Saturday signed a “significant” memorandum of understanding (MoU) to engage in the oil and gas sector, a move aimed at boosting New Delhi’s efforts toward ensuring energy security. “This is a significant step. We are getting a sense that this is an area they would like to engage with us in,” a senior official of the Indian external affairs ministry who is accompanying Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari on his visit here, told reporters after the signing ceremony.
Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed and Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister for Oil and Gas Tachbardy Tagier signed the MoU in the presence of Ansari and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimohammedov.
“It will hopefully pave the way for companies in the oil and gas sector in India to engage with their counterparts,” the official said, adding it was still early to lay down a roadmap for the future.
“The nature of the collaboration has to be worked out. Will the collaboration be in upstream or downstream projects or in exploration? These details have to be worked out,” the official pointed out.
The MoU was the highpoint of Ansari’s visit that began Friday. On Sunday, he flies to Kazakhstan capital Astana on the second leg of his two-nation tour of Central Asia.
Earlier, in his opening remarks at the delegation level talks between the two countries, Ansari termed Turkmenistan as “an extended neighbour, a natural ally and a key partner” in Central Asia.
“Turkmenistan is geo-strategically located and with its vast hydrocarbon resources, it has an important role to play in the world’s energy security. India, with its vast requirement of energy is Turkmenistan’s natural partner,” the vice president noted.
In this context, he also thanked Berdimohammedov for having brought New Delhi on board the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project.
Noting that Indian companies like ONGC, OVL, GAIL and IOC “have vast expertise, experience and required capital”, Ansari said they were “willing to partner with Turkmenistan by constructively participating in upstream and downstream activities”.
Berdimohammedov, in his opening remarks, also referred to the TAPI project and said: “The realization of this large-scale project is not only beneficial for the participating countries but also for strengthening and expanding cooperation with the whole of Asia.”
Noting that India’s achievements in the IT sector were “commendable” Berdimohammedov said: “We seek your expertise in this field.”
Referring to the growing trade ties between the two countries, he noted that some 15 Indian companies currently had a presence in Turkmenistan and that trade had grown 10 times in the last decade, while 10 flights operated a week between the two countries.
“We must find new ways to enhance these ties,” the president added.
Prior to the delegation-level talks, Ansari and Berdimohammedov were engaged in a one-on-one session during which they pointed to the close and historical ties between the two countries and said this would provide the impetus to move ahead in diverse fields, the external affairs ministry official said.
The two leaders also noted that their countries shared similar views on issues like countering drug trafficking and terrorism and that these were areas they could also collaborate in, the official added.
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