Iraq urges Indian companies to participate in energy and infra projects: Envoy

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New Delhi | Published: September 25, 2019 7:14:07 PM

Being one of the largest oil and LNG importer, India is looking at other countries to fulfill its demands.

Saudi Arabia which has been India’s top oil source was for the first time dethroned by Iraq in 2017-18 fiscal year in supplying crude to India

Being one of the largest oil and LNG importer, India is looking at other countries to fulfill its demands. Soon, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan will be visiting Iraq to explore possibilities for increasing imports from that country. Fear of political unrest and lack of direct sea route, Indian businesses have kept away from Iraq since 2002.

With the country limping back to normalcy, the bilateral trade between the two countries touching $ 19bn between 2017-18, Indian companies could play a major role in Iraq’s economy by joining various projects in infrastructure and commodities.

Saudi Arabia which has been India’s top oil source was for the first time dethroned by Iraq in 2017-18 fiscal year in supplying crude to India.

Interacting with a select group of journalists, ambassador of Iraq to India Falah Abdulhasan, has said that, “We don’t have the for the last eight-nine months. But it is estimated that between 2017-18, Iraq exported crude to India for approximately $ 25 billion.”

Inviting Indian companies to explore investment and development opportunities in the oil sector in his country, the envoy said that dates for Pradhan’s visit has not been firmed up yet.

During April 2018-March 2019, Iraq had exported 46.61 million tonnes of crude oil, which is 2 percent more than 45.74 million tonne it had sold in 2017-18 fiscal. Soon after the US had imposed sanctions on Iran, India was forced to turn off its oil import from that country and after the recent drone attack on the Saudi oil fields; the government is exploring other countries for its energy needs.

In fact, after Saudi Arabia, Iran country’s second-biggest supplier of crude oil till 2010-11, but had been pushed back due to western sanctions over the years, but with the sanctions easing in 2015, Indian refiners purchased more from that country.

According to experts, India imports almost 80 percent crude to meet its growing needs from various countries across the globe including the United States and Russia. West Asia region is also of critical importance to India as it buys its crude from countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq.

However due to political uncertainty related to Iran and Saudi Arabia, India has started exploring options in other countries.

The envoy said efforts are on to take the relations between the two countries to the next level. “Liberalising visa is one such step. Though there is an option for visa on arrival for large groups which go on pilgrimage. Also, talks are going on to increase the number of flights from New Delhi to Baghdad.”

“We are also keen that Indian companies participate in the annual fair in Baghdad. With Iraq formally joining the International Solar Alliance, there will be opportunities for Indian companies to participate in the tenders for solar panels, which will be released soon,” said the envoy.

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