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India, China plan Asia energy agency

By Anil K. Joseph in Beijing
January 13, 2006 14:42 IST
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India on Friday said it would support, a Chinese suggestion for creating an Asian counterpart to the International Energy Agency to coordinate the long-term energy import policies of major oil importers in the region.

"India stands ready to participate in such an Asian counterpart to the International Energy Agency - but only in the cooperative spirit of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence. We believe China would be of the same view," Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mani Shankar Aiyar said in Beijing.

In his Address to a select gathering of Chinese oil company officials and experts, Aiyar, now on a three-day official visit to China, noted that the Development Research Centre of the State Council, China's Cabinet, in a background paper, had suggested creating an Asian counterpart to the International Energy Agency through cooperation between China, India, Japan, South Korea and other nations.

Speaking on the subject 'India and China in Asia's Quest for Energy Security," Aiyar thanked DRC for their "supportive reference" and pointed out that the January and November Ministerial Round Tables hosted by India had proposed a kind of Asian counterpart to the International Energy Association, but a forum based on Panchsheel rather than "attempting to divide Asia between buyers and sellers."

There is need for major net energy importing countries like India, China, Japan and South Korea to periodically meet and discuss common issues, he said a day after signing a memorandum of understanding with China's National Development Research Commission for sweeping cooperation between India and China in the hydrocarbons sector, vital for the energy security of the two Asian giants.

"But the aim is not, and should not be, to pit an OPIC country - Organisation of Petroleum Importing Countries - against OPEC - Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries," he said.

Aiyar, who held wide-ranging talks with top Chinese oil industry officials, said that India's cooperation in energy is based on equal cooperation, mutual benefit, mutual respect and enhanced understanding as embodied in the Panchsheel, enunciated by late Jawaharlal Nehru and Zhou Enlai over 50 years ago.

The problem of energy security is by no means peculiar to the Asia giants, India and China, he said, stressing that many of the smaller Asian countries were also net energy importers and needed to ensure the security, stability and sustainability of oil and gas supplies.

"China has an excellent record of regional cooperation in Asia. So does India. Together, we can set the agenda for Asian energy cooperation," Aiyar suggested.

"The Asian Renaissance brought us all to independence and liberation. Now the Asian Resurgence depends on energy cooperation in Asia," he said.

"The 21st century will indeed be the Asian century only if Asian countries - buyers or sellers - join together in a continent-wide bid at bringing Asia together and keeping Asia together. I am confident that we will," Aiyar said.

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Anil K. Joseph in Beijing
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