Sudan woos Indian oil firms with "special treatment" promise

Jun 07, 2005 02:00 AM

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail promised Indian firms special treatment for taking up projects in the oil and infrastructure sectors. Ismail, starting a three-day visit to New Delhi, held discussions with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Natwar Singh.
"Economic diplomacy is at the heart of our 'Look East' foreign policy. India has confirmed investment in the oil sector to the tune of $ 2.2 bn. China has invested $ 4 bn mainly in oil exploration," Ismail told.

"China has plans to spend $ 8 bn in oil exploration over the next two years. India can do more. To encourage Indian firms we are drawing up contracts which offer special treatment," he said.
"Specific proposals have come from Indian firms for oil exploration in eastern and western parts of Sudan and they will be examined."

India's Oil Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar is slated to visit Sudan in August.
"The visit is part of intensified efforts to increase bilateral energy cooperation," Ismail said. Sudan proposes to increase its oil production from half a mm bpd to 1.2 mm barrels in the next two years. In February this year, India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp. was awarded a contract to build a $ 1.2-bn oil refinery in Sudan, an African country bordering the Red Sea.
"We had first awarded the contract of building a 100,000 bpd refinery at Port Sudan to Malaysian firms but as the project did not get off the ground we offered it to ONGC. They are now going ahead with building the refinery," Ismail said.

Sudan has also mandated ONGC to build a $ 200-mm multi-product export pipeline from the Khartoum refinery to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, about 740 kilometres (460 miles) away. ONGC already has a 25 % stake in the Greater Nile Oil Project in Sudan and has interests in two exploration blocks.
"ONGC has a strong presence in Sudan along with other Indian firms like Reliance Petroleum and Indian Oil Corp. We would like more Indian firms to exploit opportunities in Sudan," Ismail said.

Source: AFP
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