‘Any forum which can encourage U.S. firms to invest in India should be explored’

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has sent out an S.O.S. to the Ministry of External Affairs, seeking its help in attracting investment from American oil and gas giants.

Stating that efforts to convince U.S. exploration and production (E&P) firms to participate in the country’s international oil and gas blocks bidding rounds under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) had not yielded desired results, the Petroleum Ministry has pitched for holding of Ministerial level dialogue. This dialogue, which would take place at the highest level, would clear the air over the NELP, concerns of U.S. firms on data availability, fiscal terms, policies and regulations and visitor programmes. The Petroleum Ministry, in its communication to the MEA, stated that even during NELP road shows, U.S. firms were given opportunities to voice their concerns but that did not help in getting them on board. “The Petroleum Ministry is of the view that any forum or platform which can encourage U.S. firms to invest in India should be explored,” the note from the Ministry said .

The Ministry also suggested cooperation between India and U.S. in the area of unconventional gas development (shale gas and gas hydrates). The Petroleum Ministry wants a more comprehensive and secure relationship with the U.S. Department of Energy (USDoE) to revitalise technical exchanges.

According to the Action Plan 2013, the effort would be to promote mutual private sector investment in upstream oil and gas sectors in U.S. and India to advance mutual energy security goals. “India has sought greater investments by U.S. energy firms in its upstream oil and gas sector and the Indian firms are also seeking to make additional investments in the U.S. oil and gas sector. We have to engage more intensely with the US-India Business Council (USIBC) to focus on the energy security issue,” a senior Petroleum Ministry official said. In addition to this, India, during this year, will be seeking to facilitate information exchanges on policy regulatory framework development. India is also seeking to agree on collaborative efforts to promote a transparent energy market pricing mechanism. “India has made request to the U.S. at the highest level to allow export of LNG to India as a special case. India is not among the countries which has a free trade agreement (FTA) with US and requires special approval of the USDoE for export of gas. We are constantly following it up and hope for a positive approval,” the official added.

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