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India keen on expanding oil, gas explorations in Vietnam

March 07, 2012 17:08 IST
Keen on expanding oil and gas explorations in Vietnam's East Sea, energy-hungry India today said it will be a "win-win" situation for both the economies.

Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who is on a two-day visit to the South-East Asian nation, pushed for increased collaboration with Vietnam in energy, mining and infrastructure sectors.

"More than USD 5 billion (investments) are in the pipeline. Potential could be much more given the strength Vietnam has," he said.

"We are dependent on imports for coal, oil and natural gas," he said highlighting offshore and onshore drilling as potential areas for enhancing investments.

State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp's overseas arm ONGC Videsh accounts for much of India's investment in Vietnam. It has 45 per cent stake in one gas field -- Block 06.1 in the Nam Con Son basin off Vietnam's south coast -- in a joint venture with TNK-BP and PetroVietnam.

It won a contact in 2006 to jointly explore with PetroVietnam in Blocks 127 and 128 in the Phu Khanh basin further north.

China had protested against Indian presence in these two blocks in South China Sea where Beijing is embroiled in territorial disputes with Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei.

New Delhi has pledged to continue exploring for energy as Blocks 127 and 128 were in Vietnamese territorial waters.

South China Sea, which Beijing claims almost in its entirety, is thought to be rich in oil and gas and is one of the world's most important shipping routes.

ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) is to drill a well in Block 128 and has relinquished Block 127 because of poor hydrocarbon prospectivity.

"We will be happy to do more in sectors like dairy, marine and energy," Sharma said.

The minister said that both onshore and offshore drilling in Vietnam can become a "win-win" situation for both the economies.

"We will be happy to further encourage companies to explore and exploit the reserves that are there," he said, adding Indian firms like ONGC could play a leading role in this direction.

At present, the bilateral trade between the nations stood at USD 3.7 billion. Indian exports to Vietnam includes pharmaceuticals, cotton and electrical machinery, while imports iron and steel and mineral fuels.
Tripti Agarwal in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
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