for Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas | Date - 06-11-2007

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

2.         It is with great pleasure that I warmly welcome you all to the first India Africa Hydrocarbon Conference and Exhibition being held in New Delhi. 


3.         India and Africa, the seats of glorious civilisations and abundant prosperity, have enjoyed historic relations dating back to 3000 BC. Our histories are similar with a period of prolonged colonial rule and exploitation of our natural resources and great sacrifices during our struggle for freedom and independence. The Indian National Congress led by Mahatama Gandhi has always maintained close relations with its counterpart nationalist parties of Africa during their freedom struggles.  The Indian National Congress and the African National Congress have extended mutual support to each other’s anti colonial and anti-apartheid movements. India has always extended unwavering support to African nations in their struggle for independence and liberation from apartheid.  

4.         Africa is endowed with rich mineral wealth. Its flora and fauna make it one of the most exotic continents. India is keen to offer its services so that Africa develops these resources for the good of its people.

5.         The increasing trade and commercial ties between both the countries is evident from the ten-fold growth in bilateral trade between 1990 and 2005 from US $967 million to US$ 9.1 billion. To strengthen ties between our economies, India launched “Focus Africa Program” in 2002. The program, which focused initially on seven major trading partners, has been extended to cover over 17 African countries.

6.         The Indian Diaspora has a significant presence across the African continent and has assimilated into the culture and socio-economic milieu of the nations. This reinforces the strong social and cultural bonds between our nations.

7.         As we meet here today for the first India African Hydrocarbon Conference, perhaps, the greatest challenge for us is to provide humankind with its rapidly expanding energy needs in a cost effective and environment-friendly manner. As legitimate energy demands of developing countries grow in order to fuel their economic growth, the spare capacity across the global supply chain has been diminishing feeding speculative interests in the oil market.  This has led to oil prices reaching historic highs and continuing at unprecedented levels. This is a matter of grave concern to all developing countries due to the imminent danger of economic dislocation and its cascading effect on both oil producing and consuming countries. Today, we live in a globalised world of unified markets and our fortunes and prosperity are closely intertwined. 

8.         Under these trying times, the spectacular oil reserves of Africa are gratifying. In the last ten years, these reserves have risen by an impressive 56%. Also production has jumped by over 30% during this period. I salute Africa for its significant role in augmenting oil reserves and production to fuel the global economy. 

9.         The Indian economy is growing at a healthy rate of over 9% in the past few years and we are keen to sustain this rate so that the benefits of liberalisation percolate to the poor.  To achieve the objectives of sustainable development, we are pursuing the multi-pronged strategies outlined in the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

10.        We are committed to ensuring our billion strong nation affordable access to energy.  To insulate our economy from the vagaries of the international oil market and the inflationary pressures that could arise from transferring the entire price rise to end-users, the Indian Government and the National Oil Companies are absorbing over 85% of the difference between cost of import and domestic oil prices. The energy policy of India is committed to meeting the lifeline energy needs of its households with safe, clean and convenient forms of energy.

11.        We have embraced a multi-dimensional approach to achieve energy security. We have accelerated exploration of our domestic basins, through a policy framework that attracts foreign investments. We are encouraging Indian companies to participate and acquire acreage abroad. The portfolio of initiatives also includes diversifying our energy mix, improving energy efficiency, fuel conservation measures, environment protection, etc. A notable move has been to convert the entire public transportation fleet in our major cities like Delhi and Mumbai to compressed natural gas so as to reduce the harmful impact of increasing emissions on the environment. India is a large sugar cane producing country and we are encouraging the use of ethanol blending in gasoline. Besides being environmentally friendly, this move has helped to put more disposable income in the hands of our farming community.

12.        African nations must be keen to develop their vast natural hydrocarbon resources for the benefit of their people. This will help in all round prosperity and reduce the disparities in order that these nations attain their full glory and potential.

13.        India extends its whole hearted support to these efforts of our African friends, and is keen to partner the African nations in their progress by offering its expertise in the Upstream and Downstream sectors through technology, training, investments, research and development.  

14.        I would like to urge both the Indian and African companies to use this opportunity to interact and develop strong business ties by forging partnerships for optimum exploitation of hydrocarbons, expansion and modernisation of refining infrastructure, augmentation of regional oil and gas transport infrastructure and exchange of information, etc. 

15.        For our mutual benefit, I believe we should institutionalise cooperation between our countries at three levels. Firstly at the Government to Government level to address the macro-policy issues. Secondly at the company/trade body level for joint cooperation in development of upstream and downstream assets. Thirdly at the research institution level to facilitate setting up of laboratories, carrying out research and technology transfer.   

16.        I am sure this two day conference and exhibition will facilitate in-depth discussion and deliberation and help in achieving increased cooperation between our nations as well as help various oil and gas companies in creating and expanding business relationships. 


Thank you all.

(Release ID :32474)

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