India invites foreign firms to invest in state oil companies

Country's petroleum minister says India is open to oil imports from any party for a 'responsible and reasonable price'.

    Indian Prime Minister Modi has held talks with several foreign oil and gas firms, including Saudi Aramco, to invest in Indian state-owned energy companies [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]
    Indian Prime Minister Modi has held talks with several foreign oil and gas firms, including Saudi Aramco, to invest in Indian state-owned energy companies [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

    International energy firms will be invited to participate in India's privatisation of state-owned oil companies, the country's Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said late on Monday.

    Pradhan said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently met the chief executives of energy firms in Houston, including those from Exxon Mobil Corp, BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell, Rosneft Oil Co, Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc).

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    This is the first time Pradhan has signalled the government's intent to bring foreign investment into the country's state-owned oil companies.

    "We are inviting oil majors," he told reporters at an energy conference in Abu Dhabi.

    "They are all towards India's energy market," Pradhan said.

    Asked if the response was positive, he said, "I am very enthusiastic."

    The minister said a planned oil refinery on India's west coast in partnership with Aramco and Adnoc is on the right track. There will be more clarity once a new government is formed in the state of Maharashtra, where the project is planned, which is deadlocked after the recent elections, he said.

    Asked if a firm deal with Aramco and Adnoc could be sealed soon, he said "I think so" but declined to give a timeline.

    India is one of the world's largest oil consumers, with about 80 percent of its demand met by imports. Sanctions imposed by the United States against Iran, once a major supplier to India, have hurt New Delhi's ability to source cheap sources of energy.

    Pradhan said India is open to crude oil imports from Russia. "We are open to source our requirements from all over the world whoever gives us responsible and reasonable price. Russia is a very important partner for us."

    On Monday, the chairman of Indian Oil Corp said the company was looking at buying Russian oil.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency