Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan is planning a three-nation tour later this week to secure and expand energy partnerships for India.
Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who puts oil diplomacy on top priority, Pradhan, accompanied by top bureaucrats of the petroleum ministry and heads of firms such as ONGC Videsh and Indian Oil Corporation, is expected to travel to Iran, UAE and Mauritius starting April 8, sources told FE.
During his visit to Tehran, Pradhan would push for signing of a definite agreement to develop the prolific Farzad-B gas project by an Indian consortium led by ONGC Videsh (OVL). “India has always stood by Iran during the tough years. Now, it’s time to talk business. Farzad-B field was discovered by us and we should get the rights to develop it,” a senior petroleum ministry official told FE.
Till Tuesday, the Hassan Rouhani-led Iranian government has not indicated signing of an agreement, though India is “hopeful” that bilateral discussions would arrive at a decision, said another official privy to the discussions.
In Abu Dhabi, Pradhan’s delegation would take forward the discussions held in New Delhi in February when Suhail Mohammed Al Mazrouei, minister for energy of UAE, visited India. Indian firms such as ONGC Videsh, IOC, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and Oil India would put on the table their interest in participation in producing assets or prospective exploration rounds in the UAE. Indian companies are also interested in acquiring a stake in ADCO (Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations) for onshore oil operations.
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan also visited New Delhi in February, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself went to receive him at the airport. Industry watchers see new vigour and momentum to India-UAE ties during recent times. Modi called Al Nahyan his “special friend”, and Pradhan is likely to translate the friendship into strong business relationship.
From UAE’s side, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) is working with Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserve Limited (ISPRL) to store crude oil in Mangaluru. ADNOC is keen on taking half of the 1.5 million tonnes in the Mangaluru facility.
India would offer the Arabian Peninsula nation investment opportunities for projects in the hydrocarbon sector being taken up by Indian PSUs in various parts of India, such as OPaL project at Dahej Gujarat, Bharat Oman Refineries Limited (BORL) project at Bina, Madhya Pradesh and HPCL’s integrated refinery cum petro-chemical plant at Andhra Pradesh.
At Port Louis, Pradhan would seek expansion of business ties, where IOC is the third largest petroleum company carrying out operations since 2001. Indian Oil (Mauritius), a wholly owned subsidiary of IOC, holds an overall market share of 24% in the island nation.
Pradhan’s three-nation tour, April 8-14
Definite agreement to develop
the prolific Farzad-B gas project
* ADNOC to use India’s strategic crude oil reserves
* OVL has submitted EoI to invest in upstream projects
* Investments in petro-chemicals and refinery projects here
Expanding downstream business