Indian oil firms asked to invest in Turkmenistan


New Delhi : Indian oil companies have been invited by Turkmenistan to acquire stakes in the country’s Caspian shelf oil and gas blocks through production-sharing contracts.

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The invitation was extended during a meeting between Indian petroleum minister Murli Deora and his Turkmen counterpart Baimurat Muradov at Asghabat, capital of the country.

The ministers also agreed on a comprehensive roadmap to push bilateral ties in the oil sector.

During the meeting late Sunday, Murdova said that Turkmenistan’s onshore oil and gas blocks were still not open for equity participation by foreigners and hence the invitation for the off-shore blocks, an official statement said.

The Turkmen side specifically referred to the joint venture between ArcelorMittal and Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), which recently acquired 30-percent stake in two blocks on the Caspian Sea.

Deora, who was on his way to Russia, was told that Turkmenistan was interested in Indian companies, given their expertise in the oil sector and that they could also sign contracts for buying hydrocarbons from onshore projects.

It was also agreed at the meeting that officials of Indian companies such as ONGC, Indian Oil Corp and GAIL (India) would visit Turkmenistan in the near future to apprise the Turkmen side about the potential in India.

“This would be followed by memorandums of understanding during the second Joint Working Group meeting on energy in the first quarter of 2008,” the statement said, adding that the potential for refineries would also be a part of this pact.

The two leaders also discussed the potential for setting up a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan, since India would need around 250 million cubic metres of natural gas by next year.

“The Indian side was briefed about huge reserves of oil and gas under Turkmen possession. Doubts raised on credibility of Turkmen reserves were satisfactorily dispelled,” the statement added.