India looks at Africa to bolster its gas needs

To meet its growing energy needs, India will invest close to `4 lakh crore in the hydrocarbon sector and is also looking at securing hydrocarbon assets in mineral-rich Africa to diversify import of 80 per cent of its crude oil needs, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas RPN Singh has said.

“To meet the growing demand for crude oil and gas in India, Africa is expected to play a major role in the years ahead. India seeks to expand its presence across the hydrocarbon value chain in Africa,” Singh said ahead of the two-day India-Africa Hydrocarbons Conference beginning in New Delhi.

India is the world’s fourth largest oil importer and its oil consumption is likely to double to over 830 million tonnes by 2030. In this background, besides developing its own resources, diversification of supplies has become critical for India as it depends on imports for more than three-fourth of its oil needs.

Singh had recently said in Rajya Sabha that keeping in view the growing requirement of energy in the country, the oil ministry proposes to invest `3,90,000 crore in the next five years on upgrading production, exploration, refining and storage activities of petroleum and petroleum products in the country.

India’s refining capacity, which is 194 million tonnes (mt) per annum at present, is set to increase to 238 mt by 2013. This means India requires 40 mt of additional crude per annum. This also makes it imminent for India to consciously diversify its sources of crude oil imports so as to reduce its dependence on any particular region of the world.

Currently, Gulf countries are the major suppliers of India’s crude oil. But, Africa, which accounts for 9.5 per cent of world's proven oil reserves and 12 per cent of global oil production can offer immense production and exploration opportunities to India in its upstream sector of Angola, Ghana, Sudan, Congo, Nigeria, Uganda, Mozambique and Tanzania, according to experts.

At present, India’s oil PSUs have been engaged in oil and gas exploration in as many as 24 countries, including Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Russia, Sudan, Myanmar, Mozambique, Libya, Oman, Australia and Venezuela with a total investment of `64,832 crore. The minister said, India wants to expand its presence across Africa in hydrocarbon sector.

Countries in Africa have lately turned important for Indian companies as they present an alternative to oil-rich countries in West Asia and they also offer production sharing contracts unlike West Asia, which gives service contracts only.

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