Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Murli Deora on Thursday said Africa's largest crude oil and gas producer — Nigeria — was willing to increase oil exports to India besides liquefied natural gas (LNG).

“Nigeria is our close friend and willing to help us in meeting our growing energy requirements. This is a positive development for securing India's energy security,'' Mr. Deora said. He recently had a meeting with Nigerian President's special adviser Emmanuel O. Egbogah.

Mr. Deora said that during his meeting, he took up the issue of GAIL (India) and Petronet LNG picking up stake in the $8-billion LNG project at Brass in the Niger delta. “We expressed interest in sourcing LNG on long-term contract from Nigeria and discussed the possibility of GAIL and Petronet joining in a LNG project,'' Mr. Deora remarked.

State-run Nigeria National Petroleum Corp has a 49 per cent stake in the Brass project. French energy major Total, Eni of Italy and ConocoPhillips hold 17 per cent stake each. India wants additional Nigerian crude, Petroleum Secretary S. Sundareshan said. “Mr. Emanuel responded positively and said the Indian side should send a formal proposal to the Nigerian Government in this regard. We will be moving in this direction soon,'' Mr. Deora said. India's energy demand is expected to increase by over 40 per cent during the next decade but supply from its ageing oil-fields is expected to increase by around 12 per cent necessitating higher import of oil and gas assets abroad, he said. India wants to increase its crude oil import from Nigeria, which plans to raise its production to 4 million barrels from 2.7 million barrels a day by 2012. India imports around 13 million tonnes of crude oil from Nigeria annually.

Nigeria is the largest crude oil producer in Africa. Nigerian crude oil is light and sweet and commands a premium in the international market due to its quality.

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