The UAE can play a major role in India’s ambitious transition from hydrocarbon economy to a gas-based economy as the two countries are "enjoying an excellent relationship," said the country's energy minister.
"Although the UAE is not a primary supplier of natural gas, the country can be a big investment partner in some of India’s gas projects such as putting up the pipelines, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals and city gas distribution networks," stated Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and Minister of Steel, while speaking to the state news agency, WAM.
"We have a very ambitious vision to develop all areas related to natural gas sector," remarked Pradhan who is on a three-day official visit to the UAE.
The current share of gas in India’s energy mix is 6.2 per cent, in comparison to the global average of 24 per cent. The Indian government led by PM Narendra Modi aims to increase it to 15 per cent by 2030.
"The UAE and India are enjoying an excellent relationship. For the first time, the UAE awarded a stake to an Indian consortium in Lower Zakum offshore field in Abu Dhabi [in 2018]. It is very prestigious for Indian hydrocarbon industry. We are interested in exploring similar new areas of opportunities in the UAE," the minister said.
Pradhan said that pre-construction activities would start soon on the project site of $44 billion Ratnagiri Refinery in western Indian state of Maharashtra, with the participation of the UAE.
"The state government is acquiring the land and once it is completed, we will go public with the details," he added.
The joint venture, which was announced in 2018, involved one of the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) deals in India, with Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) jointly owning 50 per cent stake, while the remaining will be owned by a consortium of India’s state owned oil companies.
About another of the largest FDI deals in India - Saudi Aramco’s announcement on August 11 of its intention to acquire a 20 per cent stake in India’s Reliance’s Oil-to-Chemicals business in a deal valued at $15 billion - the minister said: "If it materialises, it will create value to both countries."
Asked about the reported "regulatory and other approvals required" for the deal, he said, "They don’t need any approval from my ministry. It is a deal between two companies. Government of India will support any kind of investment in Indian markets. Certainly, that [the deal] will go smooth," Pradhan explained.
The UAE’s investments in the mega refinery project and Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves' underground oil storage facility at Padur in south India, are examples of "the UAE’s commitment to do more business with India," he said.
As a supplier of crude oil and petroleum products to India, the UAE will now have a major role in India’s transition to become the top energy consumer in the world, said the minister.
"Now, India is the third-largest energy consumer in the world. With a projected energy demand growth of 4.2 percent per annum, India will become the top energy consumer in the next 15 years," remarked Pradhan.
More people are joining the energy consumption club thanks to expansion of India’s rural electrification and Liquefied Petroleum Gas supplies networks, he added.
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