Home | News    Wednesday 17 November 2004

India sets up advisory panel on oil diplomacy

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NEW DELHI, Nov 16, 2004 (AP) — A panel of former Indian diplomats was appointed Tuesday to advise state-run oil firms on how to buy energy stakes in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

"We now have some of our most distinguished ex-diplomats, each having had stints in economic diplomacy, to assist us in enhancing India’s long-term energy security," Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said.

The former diplomats will advise the Indian government on how to approach different countries in India’s pursuit of energy security, Aiyar told reporters as he held the first meeting of the panel, hours after its constitution.

India, one of the world’s most energy-intensive economies, imports more than 70 percent of the crude oil it consumes. The demand for oil is rising because of its rapidly growing economy.

The country’s consumption of petroleum products is estimated to be 108 million metric tons this year, and domestic output has remained flat for years.

India’s state-run oil firms have struck deals to explore oil and gas in the Middle East, Africa and Russia in an effort to stabilize supplies and procurement prices.

But Aiyar said the Indian companies needed more help from the government in pushing their plans. "It is very necessary to mobilize all our diplomatic experience to synchronize with our investments abroad."

India is looking at investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Australia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria, Sudan, and West Africa.

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