India seeks more exploration blocks in Nigeria

June 23rd, 2008 - 10:46 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

Jeddah, June 22 (IANS) India has sought support from Nigeria to help Indian companies find more exploration blocks in the African nation’s hydrocarbon sector. Minister for Oil and Natural Gas Murli Deora made this request in the course of a meeting with Nigeria’s Energy Minister Odein Ajumogobia on the sidelines of the conference of oil producing and consuming countries convened by Saudi Arabia, according to an Indian government statement.

Deora’s meeting with his Nigerian counterpart was one of a series of bilateral meetings the Indian team had with visiting delegations.

During the course of the meeting between Deora and Ajumogobia, the two sides reviewed their existing projects.

The overseas arm of India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), ONGC Videsh, through its joint venture with ONGC Mittal Energy Ltd (OMEL) has three blocks in Nigeria.

Through two other joint ventures with Oil India Ltd (OIL) and Indian Oil, ONGC Videsh has participating interest in one exploration block each.

The Indian minister also called for favourable long-term relations in supply of crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India.

Ajumogobia reciprocated by saying that his government would give positive consideration for this.

The Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) oil pipeline issue came up for discussion during the course of a meeting Deora had with Iran’s Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari.

Reiterating India’s commitment to the project, Deora also briefed his Iranian counterpart about the meeting between India and Pakistan at Islamabad in April this year.

Tehran is likely to host a trilateral ministerial meeting in July 2008 to discuss various issues related to the project.

Later, talking to reporters, Deora said that India was hopeful of signing the $7.5-billion pipeline deal with Iran and Pakistan soon.

He said that with Pakistan getting a new oil minister, India needed to discuss a few minor issues with its subcontinental neighbour.

Deora also had a meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart Rafael Ramirez.

During the meeting, the two sides reviewed the progress made by the two sides in bilateral cooperation since Deora’s visit to Caracas in April this year.

ONGC Videsh, through a joint venture with Venezuela State Oils called IndoVenezolana, is developing the San Cristobel oilfield north of the Orinoco Oil Strip in that South American nation.

Earlier, after arriving in this city on the Red Sea coast Saturday evening, Deora, along with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, called on Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Ali I. Al-Naimi.

The Indian side complemented Saudi Arabia for convening the timely meeting to tackle high oil prices.

They discussed the current oil price scenario and its adverse impact on various countries especially developing countries like India.

The two sides also deliberated on remedial measures that were needed to address the situation.

On its part, the Indian side assured its commitment to remain fully engaged with the international community in this endeavour.

Deora and Chidambaram led the Indian delegation at the Jeddah energy meeting which was attended by 36 oil producing and consuming nations, seven international organisations and a number of global oil majors.

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