Modi Invites BP, Shell, Author Yergin and Experts to Revive Oil & Gas Sector

BP Group Chief Executive Bob Dudley, Royal Dutch Shell’s Director (Projects & Technology) Harry Brekelmans, International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol and Pulitzer prize-winning American author Daniel Yergin are visiting India today on a special invite by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM wants their expert opinion to revive country’s oil and gas sector that saw a rapid decline since 2009.

Indian energy experts such as former petroleum secretaries Vijay Kelkar and Vivek Rae will also be present in the morning meeting, government and industry sources said. The meeting is expected to continue till lunch. NITI Aayog Vice Chairman & Economist Arvind Panagariya, Finance Minister Arun Jaitely and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will also participate in the deliberation. It is expected that NITI Aayog will coordinate the government’s effort to revitalise India’s energy sector. PM Modi is the chairman of the Aayog.

According to sources, Dudley has agreed to attend the meeting on Prime Minister’s personal invitation. BP is the only multinational energy giant to invest in exploration and production of oil and gas in India. In 2011, it invested about $7.2 billion to pick up 30% stake in 23 oil and gas blocks held by Reliance Industries. This also included Reliance’s oil and gas producing fields in KG-D6. Soon after projects of Reliance and BP hit the general policy paralysis that prevailed in the petroleum ministry at that time. Several energy firms including BP and RIL gradually reduced their investment plans in India’s oil and gas sector. As a result, currently RIL and BP hold only four blocks in India that include controversial KG-D6.

Energy experts said that other energy firms such as Cairn India, Eni, Hardy Oil and Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation had also faced several hurdles during the same period. This not only hampered India’s oil and gas exploration but also dissuaded energy companies from investing in Indian sedimentary basin. Due to lack of investors’ interest India could not invite auction for its oil and gas blocks since 2011. The ninth round (Nelp-IX) was unveiled more than five years ago in London when Murli Deora was the oil minister.

(Also published in Amar Ujala, Jan 5, 2016

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