India, Saudi Arabia to set up expert teams to seal projects

Riyadh, April 15 (IANS) Inviting Saudi Arabian investors to tap the opportunities emerging from India’s new hydrocarbons exploration policy, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has agreed with the kingdom’s leadership to form expert teams from the two sides to expedite specific projects.

This emerged during a series of meetings here as part of Pradhan’s one-day visit to the kingdom, during which he met with Vice Minister for Petroleum Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, and Health Minister and Chairman of Aramco Khalid Al Falih, an official statement said on Friday.

“Pradhan elaborated on the hydrocarbon exploration licensing policy and discovered small fields policy and invited the Saudi side to invest in Indian upstream sector. The Saudi side also provided details of investment opportunities for Indian companies in their country,” the statement said.

“Both sides agreed to conclude discussions regarding concrete investment proposals in a time-bound manner. They also agreed to appoint high level negotiation teams for various projects which would be periodically reviewed at minister level.”

Saudi Arabia has been the largest supplier of crude oil to India. The kingdom supplied about 40 million metric tonnes of crude to India in 2015-16, accounting for about 20 percent of total oil imports. India also imported 3 million metric tonnes of cooking fuel from the kingdom, or 28 percent of its needs.

Officials said the meetings also came against the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit here earlier this month when the two sides discussed ways to enhancing cooperation in the oil and gas sector — also one of the key issues brought up by the two Saudi leaderships.

“Pradhan’s visit was a follow up to take forward the discussions regarding various investment proposals in areas like oil, gas, petrochemicals, exploration and production. He shared the details of various investment opportunities in India in downstream and upstream sectors,” the statement said.

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