As Obama comes calling, govt pitches for stronger energy ties

By: | Published: January 8, 2015 12:10 AM

India is looking to boost energy ties with the United States during President Barack Obama's visit...

India is looking to boost energy ties with the United States during President Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi as the chief guest for Republic Day celebrations. Ahead of the visit, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) has asked the petroleum ministry to come up with ideas for cooperation in the oil and gas sector, sources told FE.

In their second bilateral meeting on January 25, Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will discuss a range of priority issues, including cooperation in the oil and gas sector. The specific elements of engagement between India and the US would include allowing LNG exports from the US to India and technological cooperation in the field of oil and natural gas.

In 2013, the US had granted conditional authorisation to export domestically-produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries that do not have a free trade agreement (FTA) with it such as India. Both government-owned companies such as GAIL (India) and privately held Reliance Industries (RIL) have invested in shale gas acreages in the US. GAIL has tied up 5.8 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of LNG imports from the US starting 2017.

According to sources, the MEA has pointed out that the issue of India-US engagement in the field of petroleum and natural gas is an important element of bilateral cooperation and has, therefore, asked the the ministry to prepare a list of areas relating to trade and technology where both sides can pursue their mutual interests.

The foreign office has also sought ideas, inputs and any other specific formulations from the petroleum ministry, which could be included in the joint statement to be issued during Obama’s visit.

India’s partnership with the US is likely to enlist geological assistance to find shale gas and later evaluating ways to make it available for use. Economic viability in extraction of shale gas is a big problem because establishing flow of gas through rocks is tough. A similar partnership was also being discussed in 2010 between India’s then petroleum minister Murli Deora and US deputy secretary of energy Daniel Poneman.

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