India and the USA today signed an agreement to establish a bilateral energy cooperation programme under which the two countries will promote clean and energy-efficient businesses.

The India-US Energy Cooperation Programme will mobilise private sector expertise and resources to address important energy-related issues in India and the USA.

The Planning Commission and the ministries dealing with the energy sector would be the nodal agency for implementation of the programme, with Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia as the authorised signatory for India.

The signatories from the US would be US Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and US Trade and Development Agency Director Leocadia I Zak.

The agreement was signed between dignitaries from both sides today in the wake of US President Barack Obama’s three-day-long visit to India.

The programme would fund studies and related projects for clean and efficient best energy practices.

The agreement would be valid until such time that any signatory decides to opt out upon written notification to the other signatory.

India has also signed an accord with the US for cooperation in shale gas technology that will help the energy—hungry nation exploit its vast unconventional resource, Oil Minister Murli Deora said today.

The agreement was one among the several agreements signed during the visit of President Barack Obama.

“The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on November 6,” he told reporters here.

India does not have technology to exploit shale gas, an unconventional gas trapped in sedimentary rocks and the US is a pioneer in the field.

Oil Secretary S Sundareshan said the MoU will help India identify the shale gas resource in the country and frame policy regime for exploitation of the resource.

India is targeting the first round of auction of shale gas areas for exploration before the end of 2011.

India intends to join a boom in shale—gas exploration that has fueled more than USD 39 billion of acquisitions in the US by companies including Reliance Industries.

The MoU was signed by Sudhir Bhargava, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and David Goldwyn, Coordination (International Energy Affairs) in the US Department of State.

Sundareshan said the main elements of MoU include shale gas resources in India, technical studies to commence on shale gas exploration in India and training of Indian personnel in the area of shale gas.

“US Geological Survey will carry out studies on shale gas resources and will provide report to India,” he said.

Since production of shale gas is difficult, a new fiscal regime would be needed and exploration laws changed to allow such production, he said adding current exploration licenses for oil and gas do not include unconventional sources.