Murli Deora goes on African oil hunt with small change

Petroleum minister Murli Deora, currently on an African oil safari, is hunting for oil and energy assets for the country armed with a budget that seems a mere pittance while competing with multi-billion dollar budgets from Chinese and Western rivals.Ravi Kunder reports

Petroleum minister Murli Deora, currently on an African oil safari, is hunting for oil and energy assets for the country armed with a budget that seems a mere pittance while competing with multi-billion dollar budgets from Chinese and Western rivals.

This week, Deora, who has been in Nigeria, said that India will invest $350 million in developing two oil blocks in the West African nation, besides increasing its engagement in the gas sector as well (See: India set for heavy investments in Nigeria's energy sector)

Commentators say either the petroleum ministry has not done its homework well or it is out of sync of what is happening in the oil and gas industry in Africa.

They aver $350 million is loose change compared to what Western oil majors and China has already invested and would be investing in the near future in Africa.

The battle for energy assets in Africa has become so fierce that existing licences for oil exploration and production are virtually being torn up and new ones being offered to a willing buyer as long as a higher price can be got.

In September, it was reported that China's state owned oil company China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) was willing to acquire all the Nigerian oil licences held by Western oil majors for as much as $30 billion.