India, Qatar agree on joint exploration of energy assets

The Indian government on Sunday evinced interest in joint exploration of new oil and gas fields as well development of discovered assets in energy-rich Qatar.

 It also invited the Gulf nation to invest in the country's exploration and production sector by bidding for blocks under the new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy and to take part in the disinvestment in Indian public sector undertakings (PSUs).

Besides, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with Qatar Investment Authority for facilitating Qatari investment in the Rs40,000-crore National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.

 India "highlighted the interest of its energy companies to pursue opportunities of mutual interest in Qatar, with Qatar Petroleum and other companies, in order to jointly explore new fields as well development of discovered oil and gas assets and exploit the existing resources of natural gas and crude oil in Qatar", a joint statement said after official talks of the two countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday held wide-ranging talks with the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and Qatari leaders in Doha.

Qatar is the largest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to India.

India invited Qatar to participate in the second phase of the strategic reserves storage facility being created in India, the statement said.

Besides, the leaders deliberated upon the need for strengthening bilateral cooperation in the financial services sector, including banking, insurance and capital markets.

"They decided to expand cooperation between the financial institutions of the two countries like Securities and Exchange Board of India and the respective central banks," the statement said.

The two sides also discussed various avenues for Qatari investments in India, particularly in different asset classes and various infrastructure sectors as well as disinvestment of Indian public sector companies.

The leaders agreed to increase the level of participation in infrastructure projects in both countries.

A memorandum of understanding was also signed between Qatar Investment Authority and India's external affairs ministry for investment in National Investment and Infrastructure Fund between the two countries that would facilitate foreign investment from the gas rich Gulf state, the statement said.

The two countries agreed on regular and timely exchange of information on available investment opportunities, the statement said.

The two sides also agreed to focus on enhancing cooperation in energy, covering the areas of training and human resources development and cooperation in research and development and through promotion of joint ventures in petrochemical complexes and cooperation in joint exploration in India and other countries, the statement said.

Qatar is an important trading partner for India in the Gulf region with bilateral trade in 2014-15 standing at $15.67 billion. It is also one of India's key sources of crude oil.