Atul Aneja

DUBAI: Libya has sought India's participation in a trans-national pipeline that would bring Libyan oil to the energy hungry markets in Asia.

According to the official Libyan news agency, Jana, the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Murli Deora, who is on a visit to Libya, was briefed about the proposed oil pipeline that would transit thorough Libya, Sudan and Djibouti and terminate at the Gulf of Aden. Diplomatic sources told The Hindu that apart from India, Libya was seeking the participation of Japan and China in the project that would address the energy demands of Asia's growing economies. The Libyan side was keen on having the pipeline quickly established because of technical difficulties faced by its oil tankers in crossing the Suez Canal.

Boom in Libya

Analysts point out that after remaining in isolation for decades, Libya is now beginning to experience a boom in its energy, infrastructure and construction sectors.

Mr. Deora and his Libyan counterpart, Shukri Ghanem, discussed revamping of Libya's Lanuf refinery. It has a capacity of 11 million tonnes, but production has currently dropped by half because of low capital investments. The Indian Oil Corporation and Libya's National Oil Corporation would be 50-50 partners in the proposed joint venture. Both sides are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for this venture during Mr. Ghanem's visit to India in April.

India has also shown an interest in reviving Libya's Azzaviya refinery, where Engineers India Limited and a Libyan enterprise could be partners. Besides, Indian oil majors are keen to work together with their Libyan counterparts to raise production in at least two of Libya's existing oil fields.

During talks, it was pointed out that Indian companies have successfully carried out "re-development" in the Bombay High area. Libya has decided to send its experts to India to explore the possibility of establishing a Compressed Natural Gas grid in Tripoli.

India has also offered to train 100 personnel from Libya in its top petroleum training institutes.