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Energy security: Challenges & opportunities for India
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

India is currently the world's fifth largest oil importer, meeting 75% of its needs from overseas. According to the international energy agency, India is poised to become the third largest importer after the US and China by 2025 and while India accounts for 5% of the world's energy consumption the known hydrocarbons in the country are only 0.5% of the global reserves. So it is clear India will always be a net importer unless someone makes a miraculous discovery.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18 on the sidelines of the meet on Energy Security Towards A Sustainable Future, Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary in-charge of Energy Security at the Ministry of External Affairs spoke on a range of issues including Indian companies are unable to beat the Chinese when it comes to securing energy assets abroad.

Below is a verbatim transcript. Also watch the accompanying video.

Q: Why is it that Indian companies are unable to beat the Chinese when it comes to securing energy assets abroad?

Rajamony: Energy security is not dependent on one single thing i.e. acquisition of assets aboard. In terms of acquisition of assets abroad we have to keep in mind the fact that we are a late entrant in the field. It is the western countries who were dominant. Their dominance is being challenged by China to some extent in recent times. But China is a superpower in the making. It is an extremely strong nation which has been enjoying over 10% growth for almost 30 years now.

So the kind of resources that they have at their command when it comes to the question of acquiring assets abroad is huge compared to what India has. But yet India has been giving good competition and we have tied up a number of important assets in different parts of the world. Governments have a major role to play in ultimately who the oil assets are given to.

So hereto the government to government relation is very important, diplomacy is very important to support what our oil companies do and our Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas does.

Q: The other area where there has been so much buzz about but we have not actually seen it fructify is the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline. Where do things stand?

Rajamony: The matter is on the table. We had proposed talks with the Iranian side on the pipeline and we are waiting for dates to come from them. But the pipeline can be created only if technically it is feasible, only if economically the price at which we get it at the end of it is appropriate and is comparable to whatever prices we are getting gas from other parts of the world.

Also, when pipeline passes through troubled regions there are legitimate security considerations which have to be considered, examined and assessed. But that is not the only pipeline there is also Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan pipeline, which we are looking at. There is a private sector company called South Asia Gas Enterprise Private Ltd (SAGE), which is looking at a deep-sea pipeline from Iran and from the Gulf into India.

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