Asserting that his recent four-nation tour to the African continent had enabled India to re-draw its strategy for dealing with the strong emergence of Chinese interests in the hydrocarbon sector in the region, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora on Saturday said that GAIL (India) had been shortlisted as one of the 15 companies having qualified for the ambitious $30 billion national gas master development plan and its implementation in Nigeria.

Rounding up his African safari experience, Mr. Deora said along with seeking oil and gas assets in the African nations, it was also important that India and its companies operating there offer to become partners in the socio-economic development of African nations.

“GAIL with its consortium members has been shortlisted as one of the 15 companies for having qualified in the participation of an ambitious $30 billion plan. GAIL’s interest in participation in this huge development plan has been conveyed to the Nigerian side as well as GAIL’s interest to set up a petrochemicals plant, LPG plants and LPG transportation pipelines.”

Mr. Deora said at present, India imports about 10 per cent of its crude oil requirement from Nigeria. Another area of interest for Indian companies is in LNG liquefaction plants. Both Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and GAIL expressed interest in participation in such projects.

The Petroleum Minister said the African visit was taken as a follow-up of the second India-Africa hydrocarbon conference held in New Delhi last year that evoked a great deal of warmth and helped register recognition of Indian interests in these countries. He said ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) had established the first geo-physical and geological centre in Lagos. “Possibilities exist for Asian companies to negotiate and obtain licences which are held by international majors and due for renewal by the Nigerian Government. OVL and other companies can make efforts in securing such licences,” he said.

Interestingly, Mr. Deora said the Nigerian Government had mentioned about the new Petroleum Bill it planned to introduce which would bring in reforms in this sector. It would make exploration companies to indulge in bringing about socio-economic development in the region where they operate.

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