(AFP, NEW DELHI) - India and Oman pledged Tuesday to push forward two high-profile joint ventures -- a 1.1-billion-dollar fertiliser plant in Oman and a $1.6-billion oil refinery in central India.
The agreements came as Oman's Foreign Minister Yousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah held talks here with his Indian counterpart Jaswant Singh on boosting trade and economic cooperation.
"Both the ministers have expressed satisfaction at the decision to go full steam ahead with the Indo-Oman fertiliser project," said Indian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Raminder Singh Jassal.
Two Indian state-run firms will each hold 25 percent equity in the Oman India Fertiliser Co., while Oman Oil will control the remaining 50 percent.
The entire fertiliser production will be bought by India for at least 10 years.
Initially, the fertiliser plant will have an installed capacity of 1.65 million metric tonnes of urea and 248,000 metric tonnes of surplus merchant grade ammonia.
Both sides also agreed to speed up clearances for setting up an oil refinery project at Bina in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, said Jassal.
"Further follow up action will be taken on this as well as other projects in the refinery sector through mutual consultations," added Jassal.
In addition to these joint ventures, Abdullah told a conference that Oman had selected an Indian company Dodsal to build a gas pipeline by the second half of 2002 at a total cost of $124 million.
He said the 305-kilometre (185-mile) pipeline, running from central Oman to Sohar on the coast north of Muscat, would supply a planned aluminium smelter and petrochemical plant in Sohar.
Bilateral trade for the fiscal year to March 2000 was estimated at $200 million, but is forecast to increase to over one $billion in the next five years.
"With these high-profile joint ventures and rebound in oil revenues, bilateral trade is expected to see an upswing," said Jassal.
Oman has a 340,000-strong Indian community which comprises 60 percent of its expatriate population.
© Agence France-Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )