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Vietnam figures on India's energy s

Vietnam figures on India?s energy security map

Shishir Gupta
The Hindustan Times (New Delhi)
November 10, 2000

Vietnam has firmly come on India?s energy security map with New Delhi
deciding to invest another 250 million US dollars in the production of
commercial gas at Nam Con Son basin on the continental shelf.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Dzy Nein disclosed this at the Joint
Commission meeting this morning.

According to the Minister, ONGC-Videsh of India, Petro Vietnam and other
partners in the joint venture had reached an agreement on a revised
contract and were now actively preparing for the commercial production
of gas in block 06-1 at Nam Con Son on Vietnam?s continental shelf.

It is learnt that India has set up a Committee on Investment Promotion
in the Nam Con Son gas project to examine the signing of the commitment
and guarantee with the Vietnam government. In this context, India has
plans to invest another 230-250 million US dollars in the project.

Vietnam is the fourth largest producer of oil and gas in South-East
Asia. In fact crude oil is Vietnam?s biggest revenue earner with
production in excess of 15 million tones of crude oil and one billion
cubic meters of gas. While the Mekong basin has the largest
oil-producing field, the Nam Con Son and the Malay-Tho Chu basins have
the highest known gas reserves in the country. With petrol and gas
consumption expected to cross 120 million metric tones and 96 million
metric tones, India is all set to become the fourth largest consumer of
energy this decade. Thus, the need for New Delhi to draw plans to look
at procurement of oil and gas from South East Asia rather than be
totally dependent on the Persian Gulf.

As Vietnam is lacking in crude oil processing facilities, India has an
opportunity to ask Hanoi to export crude oil to its energy hungry
markets. This will also give a major boost to the bilateral trade that
stands at a modest 150 million US dollars. The scope is likely to expand
further once the Spratly Island (Hoang Sa basin) dispute between Vietnam
and China is resolved.

For quite something, India?s energy security plans in the east have been
revolving around Vietnam, Bangladesh and Myanmar. Besides Vietnam,
energy planners visualize a pipeline system from Myanmar via Bangladesh
that would head for the Indian markets.

However, energy plans with regards to Myanmar and Bangladesh have not
materialized due to political considerations in certain quarters. Given
the nature of problem, India on its part is trying to work out an
arrangement for oil and gas supplies under the multi-literal framework
of BIMSTEC ? comprising of Bay of Bengal littoral nations.