India looks to Africa to meet future oil demand

The fourth India Africa Hydrocarbons Conference concluded in New Delhi on Friday with a resolve to strengthen the relations between India and Africa in all its dimensions, particularly in the hydrocarbons sector.

India, considered as the top driver of energy demand growth in the world in the years to come, has also asked its oil firms to boost ties with resource-rich Africa to lock in supplies to meet future demand.

India, the world's third biggest oil importer, has already stepped up oil imports from Africa in 2015 and New Delhi wants to further boost shipments from the region. India imports nearly 16 per cent of its crude oil requirements from Africa now, with the majority coming from Nigeria and Angola. Besides, Indian public and private sector companies have interests in oil and gas fields across Africa, including Sudan, South Sudan, Mozambique, Gabon and other countries.

Indian Oil Corp, the country's largest refiner, has doubled imports from Nigeria to 60,000 barrels per day (bpd) for 2016-17 while Hindustan Petroleum Corp has sought similar volumes from the African nation.

African countries also want Indian investment to boost their oil output and develop infrastructure. The African countries evinced specific interest in using India's expertise and assistance in refining, capacity building and training of their manpower for the petroleum industry.

During the bilateral meetings, it was also agreed to provide facilitating framework, wherever required, for public and private sector companies of India and the African countries to undertake oil and gas projects.

Minister of state (independent charge) for petroleum and natural gas, Dharmendra Pradhan, said, during the year, his ministry will be sending composite delegations comprising upstream, downstream and EPC service providers from both public and private sector to countries with assessed potential for future co-operation.

Pradhan also said that India recognizes Africa as a valued partner for the comprehensive development of our peoples. He also announced additional 250 fully funded scholarships for African nationals for technical and professional courses in the hydrocarbons sector in Indian institutes.

A total of 21 African countries participated in the event, which saw enthusiastic representation at various levels, including ministers of petroleum, petroleum regulators, CEOs of national oil companies and experts in the field of petroleum. Delegations of nine African countries - Mauritius, Morocco, Algeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Tunisia, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea and Liberia - were headed by the respective ministers. Senior officials led the delegations from Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda, Libya, Cote d'Ivory, Gabon and Sierra Leone.

During the third India-Africa Forum Summit in October 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a $10-billion concessional lines of credit to Africa. The two sides had also agreed to work together to identify projects in hydrocarbon sector which can be implemented under the credit facility.

The prime minister had also announced 50,000 scholarships for African students in the next 5 years, including 250 scholarships in petroleum sector.

India's oil consumption is estimated to rise by 6 million barrels per day (bpd) to about 10 million bpd by 2040, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).