Mining giant BHP Billiton on Tuesday confirmed that it was pulling out of nine oil and gas exploration projects in India.

The Anglo-Australian multinational said it had relinquished six blocks in the Bay of Bengal that it partly owned with Indian firm GVK, and another three it owned independently.

“The decision to relinquish these blocks is the result of an exploration portfolio review and the inability to carry out exploration operations in these blocks,” a BHP spokeswoman said.

The Melbourne-based company has sharply scaled down its presence in India and will now have just a 50-per-cent interest in a block off the west coast.

The Mint business daily earlier reported that delays in getting permission to explore from defence authorities led to the exit.

The pullout by BHP Billiton is the latest in a series of global companies scaling back or ending operations in the country due to bureaucratic hurdles and disagreements with the government.

It also comes as a blow to the energy-starved country, which is looking to increase domestic production of fuel and power.

Earlier this month, Walmart ended its Indian joint venture because of restrictive regulations on foreign investment. In July, steel giants Posco and ArcelorMittal also scrapped their multi-crore projects, citing inordinate delays in getting regulatory clearances.

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