Diplomacy cell to help India's overseas oil investment

Nov 03, 2004 01:00 AM

India will set up a special diplomacy cell to help the country's oil companies acquire more overseas exploration blocks to ensure energy security. Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said his ministry had sought the help of the external affairs ministry for this.
"Diplomacy is integral to achieving energy security. So we have taken two major decisions. One is to set up a standing advisory committee on oil diplomacy for energy security," he told on the sidelines of a meet organised by the Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management.

Noted economist Arjun Sengupta has been asked to chair the advisory committee with 10-12 members, including several former diplomats like M. Hamid Ansari, the minister said.
"We are trying to get experts from the foreign service and former diplomats who have understanding about the energy issues," said Aiyar.
On the second decision, the minister said: "We have asked for an officer from the external affairs ministry to be available to the petroleum ministry to deal with the totality of energy security," he said.

While the minister has asked for an official of the rank of an additional secretary with experience in dealing with oil-rich countries, the external affairs ministry is still to make its decision.
Aiyar said he is awaiting confirmation of the date from his Pakistan counterparts to discuss the long awaited Iran-India gas pipeline. The minister has just returned from a visit to Russia to help state-owned oil companies get more exploration blocks as also acquire a stake in Russian oil companies.

In view of the increasing competition from China, which too is aggressively seeking equity stake in overseas exploration blocks and has in the past managed to outbid India, the petroleum ministry has decided to use more political diplomacy to help state-owned oil companies with their investment plans.

Source: Indo-Asian News Service
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