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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 11 June, 2002, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
India's oil industry seeks cash pipeline
Indian truck driver
India imports 70% of the energy that it uses
India's petroleum minister, Ram Naik, is on a four-day tour of Houston, Texas, to encourage foreign investment in his country's oil industry.

Indian officials have already visited Singapore and London amid a drive to increase energy production in India, and lessen the nation's dependence on oil imports.

India is the world's eighth largest consumer of oil and imports 70% of the energy that it uses. Mr Naik has said he wants to cut this figure in half.


"India just doesn't have that oil producing potential"

Deepak Mehta, Petrowatch India magazine
As part of the effort to encourage investment, the government has already lowered the income tax rate for foreign companies from 48% to 40%.

But the timing of the trip has proved unfortunate for India as tensions with neighbouring Pakistan over Kashmir have reached crisis point.

The British Foreign Office advised British nationals to leave India and Pakistan on the same day Indian officials had invited major oil companies to a presentation in London last week.

"Minimal" interest

Deepak Mehta, editor of Petrowatch India magazine, told the BBC's World Business Report that Mr Naik's target to halve oil imports was unrealistic.

"If anything oil imports to India are going to increase in the years to come," Mr Mehta said.

"India on a global scale doesn't have any oil producing assets... with the exception of the Bombay High."

Previous attempts to encourage investment have not proved fruitful.

"Multinational interest has been minimal... the BPs, the Shells, the Exxons have simply not turned up," Mr Mehta said.

"India, on an exploration level, is more a country for smaller niche players."

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Deepak Mehta, editor of Petrowatch India
"The timing couldn't be worse"
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11 Jun 02 | South Asia
06 Jun 02 | Business
01 Apr 02 | Business
04 Mar 02 | Business
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