India to explore oil and gas in Niger

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 22, 2013 14:50 hrs

New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) India will soon send oil and gas experts to Niger to explore hydrocarbon resources in the West African nation.

India's Minister of State for Petroleum P. Lakshmi told the visiting Minister of Energy and Petroleum of Niger, Foumakore Gado, at a meeting here Tuesday that Indian companies are interested in exploring oil and gas blocks and investing in the country's oil marketing infrastructure.

According to an official release, Gado welcomed Indian companies to invest in the country. He also sought Indian technical expertise in the sector.

In response, Lakshmi said Indian state-owned units like ONGC, GAIL and IOC could provide technical training to the Niger's hydrocarbon sector personnel.

Gado is leading a high-level delegation, which includes Niger's ministers of agriculture and transport, and chairman of the country's finance commission.

Bilateral relations between India and Niger, a member of the Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS), earlier mainly limited to multilateral fora, have picked up momentum with the opening of the Indian mission in capital Niamey in 2009.

India's trade with Niger stood at $57.34 million during 2010-11. India's exports to Niger was worth $46.88 million.

In recent weeks, Niger has been affected by the conflict in Mali. The UN estimates that around 150,000 refugees have fled Mali to Niger and other countries of the region like Mauritania and Burkina Faso.

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