India, US ties back on track with energy talks

  • Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 11, 2014 00:28 IST

India is keen to get US restrictions eased on sales to countries with which it does not have a free trade agreement (FTA) and technological know-how on exploring the shale gas in the country as two sides go back to the dialogue track after a chill over ties following the arrest and deportation of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.

US energy secretary Ernest Moniz and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia will lead the two sides.

The issue of LNG exports to non-FTA nations will figure at the Indo-US Energy Dialogue on Tuesday as India is looking at expanding its options. The gas-surplus US at present allows exports of small amounts of natural gas. The US allowed Sabine Pass, Freeport, Lake Charles Exports, Dominion Cove Point LNG and Cameron LNG LLC terminal in Louisiana to export LNG to non-FTA countries.

Indian companies led by state-owned GAIL have signed agreements with US firms to buy 3.5 million tonnes a year of LNG.

India also keen on getting US technological help in exploring shale gas in the country. India-Iran energy ties could also come for discussions.

The US is concerned about reports that India’s oil import from Iran has gone up—which Indian officials say are contrary to facts. However, energy dialogue is usually not the forum to discuss such issues which are more political in nature. Officials insisted that India’s oil imports would fall within the broad trendlines of reduction from the previous year’s total of 13.5 Million Metric Tonnes to 11.5 Million Metric Tonnes in the year ahead, or less, depending on market conditions in the year ahead.

India’s purchases of Iranian oil have generally tapered down on an annual, year-on-year basis, following the ‘significant reduction’ requirement (of around 15% annual cuts in oil purchases from Iran) imposed upon countries like China and India by the US.

The US has given India and China waivers from sanctions, taking into account the substantial reductions.

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