Prince Abdulaziz, Indian minister plan energy talks
Dharmendra Pradhan, Indian minister of state (independent charge) for petroleum and natural gas, arrived here Monday to hold talks with senior Saudi officials with an aim to expand cooperation in oil and gas sector. The talks have an added significance as Saudi Arabia is the largest supplier of oil to India, the second largest energy consuming nation in Asia.
“The talks between Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, assistant minister of petroleum and minerals, and the Indian minister on Tuesday will focus on all aspects of energy cooperation,” said a reliable source. “This is also the first visit of a minister of the new Narendra Modi government to Saudi Arabia, which signals a keen desire to strengthen ties between the two countries, especially in the energy sector,” he added.
During his two-day trip to the Kingdom, Pradhan will also visit the Dhahran-based Saudi Aramco, the state-owned enterprise, which operates the world’s largest onshore oilfield and offshore oilfield. The company has an estimated asset of $30 trillion. Today, Saudi Arabia remains the biggest supplier, selling 38.18 million tons of oil or 20.18 percent of India’s total oil imports in 2013-2014, said a report published by the Indian ministry of oil and natural gas.
But, the report said, India is diversifying its crude purchases, tapping new nations in South America for supplies. The Kingdom is India’s fourth largest trading partner at $43.78 billion in trade recorded during 2012-2013. In the April-November period of the current fiscal year, the two-way trade exceeded $32.7 billion. Imports of Saudi crude by India form a major part of this trade.
India and Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation during the visit of Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister to defense, to India early this year. Pradhan, who met Saudi Ambassador to India Saud Mohammed Al-Sati in New Delhi before visiting the Kingdom, will return to India from Dhahran Tuesday. About 2.8 million Indians are currently living and working in the Kingdom.