Iraq, the nation with the world’s second largest oil reserves, on Wednesday pitched for a “strategic” partnership with India, offering to at least double crude oil supplies and extend cooperation in the refining sector.

“We are desirous of a strategic partnership (with India)... by strategic partnership we mean long term (relationship),” visiting Iraqi Minister of Industry and Minerals Fawzi F. Hariri said after meeting Petroleum Minister Murli Deora here.

Iraq currently supplies 200,000 to 250,000 barrels per day (10-12.5 million tonnes a year) of crude oil to India and is willing to “double it or even triple that,” he said.

State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) Chairman Sarthak Behuria said IOC imports 11 million tonnes of crude oil from Iraq on term contract basis. Its total imports stand at around 37 million tonnes this fiscal.

Iraq, Mr. Hariri said, was also looking at joint investment in refineries. “We are willing to guarantee supply of the (entire) crude oil requirement of refinery (to be jointly set up by Indian and Iraqi firms).”

The first of the three emergency crude oil storages would be completed by mid—2011. A 1.33 million tonnes capacity storage terminal will come up at Vizag in Andhra Pradesh by mid—2011 and two more at Mangalore by 2012.

Deora offered Iraq storage at an upcoming facility on lease basis in return for long—term crude oil supply commitments. Iraq could store oil at the facility and use it to supply to its Indian customers.

Hariri said Iraq was seeking involvement of Indian firms in the revamp and modernisation of its refineries. IOC and consultancy firm Engineers India Ltd may be involved for this.

Mr. Deora sought role for the Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) in development of oilfields in Iraq.

Mr. Hariri invited Mr. Deora to visit Iraq for taking forward the cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector.

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