India-Turkmenistan signs MoU on energy cooperation

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Ashgabat, Apr 5 (UNI) India's efforts to meet its domestic energy needs received a boost when it concluded a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Turkmenistan under which Indian companies would develop refineries, set up petro-chemical plants and invest in upstream and downstream hydrocarbon projects in this Central-Asian nation.

The MoU was signed by Minister of State for External Affair E Ahmed with Turkmenistan Deputy Prime Minister of Oil and Natural Gas Tachberdy Tagier in presence of Vice-President Mohammed Hamid Ansari and Turkmeni President Gurbanguly Berdmuhammedow.

India is seeking equal rights in the hydrocarbon sector in Turkmenistan as that of China and the MoU would definitely give the required push to New Delhi's desire to forge a long-term collaboration in the petrochemicals and gas areas to overcome the shortage of fuel and gas in the near future.

Turkmenistan had offered off shore exploration blocks to India. Indian companies have also bagged several contracts in this field in Russia. China has already made its presence felt in the Central Asia and is already enganged in development of gas fields, which could supply 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas to Beijing.

Giving details about the MoU, senior officials said it envisaged development of liquefaction facilities and LNG ports. The two countries are also working closely for the development of the gas pipeline, which would pass through Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Experts of the four countries are holding technical-level talks on laying of the pipeline. The next round of talks would be held in Pakistan.

Toeing China's line, India is also trying to enter into long term agreements with the Central Asian nations in the oil and natural gas sector.

Before conclusion of the MoU, the Vice-President held extensive talks with the Turkmeni President during which entire gamut of bilateralrelations came up for discussion.

Mr Ansari, in his brief interaction, said Turkmenistan is geo-strategically located and with its vast hydrocarbon resources, it has an important role to play in energy security.

He thanked Turkmenistan for its involvement in the prestigious pipeline project.

The Vice-President said Indian companies like ONGC, GAIL and IOC have vast experience and required capital and were willing to become partners in upstream and downstream activities.

UNI SMA KD BST1330

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