On his maiden African Safari, petroleum minister Murli Deora on Monday pitched for more oil acreage for Oil and Natural Gas Corporation in Sudan while seeking resolution of dispute over payments for a pipeline that the state-owned firm built in the oil-rich nation.
Deora, who arrived in Khartoum on Sunday on the first leg of his whirlwind four-nation tour, raised the issue of payment defaults on the pipeline ONGC Videsh built in the African nation with the Sudanese minister for energy and mining Awad Ahmed Al Jazz.
Sudan, which had in 2007 defaulted on payment of installments towards the cost of building 741-km pipeline from Khatroum to Port au Sudan, agreed to form a working group to resolve the issue within a month, sources said.
The overseas investment arm of ONGC built the project at a contracted price of $194 million.
Repayments to OVL were to be made by Sudan over a period of nine years in 18 half yearly equated installments, the first installment being due on December 30, 2005.
OVL, which has interest in four blocks in Sudan which gives it 2.4 million tons of crude oil annually, wants to consolidate its operations and acquire more acreage in the African country.
Sources said Sudan invited the Indian firm to view data for exploration acreage it will be offering in licensing round this year. It offered exploration blocks to OVL.
Sudan gets 90 per cent of its revenues from export of oil.
Jazz, they said, sought Indian assistance in gas operations, biofuels technology, well stimulation and reservior management and enhance oil recovery schemes, a request that Deora readily agreed.Sudan would send teams to India this year for training in these disciplines. Sources said Deora also offered Indian expertise in refinery upgradation and management besides training its technicians.
He also offered to reserve a small portion of seats in the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology for Sudanese students. Later, he met the Sudanese vice president and handed over a letter from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for President of Sudan retierating India's commitment to increasing cooperation with the African nation.
Deora will fly to Nigeria on Monday.
The other nation's on his itenerary are Angola and Uganda.
Image: Murli Deora