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India keen on tapping Egyptian market

ONGC is tying up with EGas for exploration and development of gas fields, report Deepak Joshi & Gaurav Choudhury.

business Updated: Dec 09, 2007 22:07 IST

India's public sector oil companies have drawn out elaborate plans to tap the Eyptian oil and gas market and are in discussions to set up refineries, gas distribution networks and possibly also export gas from the hydro-carbon rich African nation to India.

Oil exploration major Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is discussing a strategic alliance with Egyptian Gas Company (EGas) for exploration and development of gas fields in the Abu Qir area.

"Both parties have agreed to jointly pursue the development of gas exploration, production and liquefaction and export facilities in Egypt, including export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India," a source said.

Besides exploration and development of the Abu Qir gas fields, ONGC is keen to invest in infrastructure, including pipelines and liquefaction.

Public sector oil marketing and refining giant Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) are also currently discussing the feasibility to set up a refinery in Egypt. Sources said IOC and EGPC are jointly pursuing an integrated package for setting up a refinery along with preferential exploration and production allotments in the oil and gas sector in Egypt.

Another public sector company GAIL and EGas are also examining a possible alliance to set up gas distribution network in Egypt. The Egyptian government has set a target of setting up a gas distribution network connecting 6 million households across the country.

"The cooperation between GAIL and EGas would be through a joint venture or a strategic alliance. Egypt is also keen on encouraging the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as transport fuel. GAIL and EGas have agreed to jointly set up CNG facilities, comprising fuel stations, pipelines and allied services, in various cities of Egypt," the source said.

The alliances were discussed during Petroleum Minister Murli Deora's visit to Egypt earlier this year. "In order to institutionalise a mechanism for expeditious and time-bound implementation of these areas, individual joint working groups have been formed by the concerned companies," the source said.