Seeking to enhance its presence in the mineral and oil rich Africa, India on Wednesday signed an agreement with Angola to bid jointly for oil and gas projects in Angola and other countries. It also offered to set up a refinery in the African nation.

The agreement was signed in the presence of visiting Indian Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and Angola’s Oil Minister Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos.

While the oil exploration agreement was signed between Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to bid for oil acreage in Angola with the African nation’s state-owned Sonangol, another state-run Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) offered to build a multi-billion dollar refinery in that country.

GAIL (India) also expressed interest in taking equity in a planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Angola. ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) signed a memorandum of understanding with Sonagol to participate in the Angola’s next bid round as well as to collaborate in exploration in third countries.

IOC Chairman Sarthak Behuria offered to participate in the Sonaref project for building a 10-million tonne refinery at Lobito. He also offered IOC’s assistance in upgrading Angola’s two refineries. OVL Managing Director R.S. Butola was also present during the meeting. India imports 5 per cent of its crude oil needs from Angola and Mr. Behuria wanted term contracts for the imports. Angola has probable oil reserves of 13-19 billion barrels, giving it the third largest hydrocarbon resources in Africa behind Libya and Nigeria, but the rate of discovery of new Angolan oilfields is outpacing its rivals and its production is beginning to accelerate. Later, Mr. Deora left for Uganda, the last stop on his four-nation whirlwind tour.

More In: Business