In a pattern similar to the recent nuclear cooperation agreement between India and the United States, the two democracies have inked in early December a pact on the hydrocarbon sector that covers petroleum and natural gas.
Officials said under the agreement, both countries will provide to each other a 'reasonably balanced' exchange of information about hydrocarbons in their patches. The agreement would also include market information in addition to statistics related to refining capacity, reserves, production, analytical techniques, system documentation, imports, exports, stocks, bunkers for strategic reserves and demand.
The activities under this arrangement for five years are to be conducted by the US Energy Information Administration and India's Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell. A working group is also proposed to be set up to co-ordinate plans for the overall management of cooperative activities under this agreement.
But the United States is not the only partner with whom New Delhi is willing to enter such a pact. China, considered a political and economic rival in the Asian race, is also a partner for India.
In order to promote sound oil and energy policies for energy security and economic development and to promote energy conservation and to reduce environmental pollution, India has also signed a cooperation agreement with China.
The objective of the agreement with China states, "The parties (the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in India and the National Development and Reforms Commission of China), shall be based on the principle of mutual benefit and in accordance with respective domestic rules and regulations, encourage and promote bilateral co-operation in the oil and natural gas sectors by establishing a cooperative institutional relationship."
The agreement between India and China aims to encourage cooperation on basic and applied research and development regarding oil and natural gas issues by companies and organisations in both countries.
However, the pact with Washington does not cover research.
While a note was agreed upon by senior officials of the United States and India, MS Srinivasan, secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and David K Garman, under secretary, US Department of Energy, early this year, their pact explicitly says, "Cooperation under this agreement is not to include any research and development activities."