Breakfast with Ram Naik, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India

India Throws Red Tape Into Dustbin, Says Ram Naik

January 22, 2001 , India is now an attractive destination for investment in the oil industry, according to Mr. Ram Naik, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India. “The old red tape has been thrown into the dustbin,” he added. Mr. Naik was in Houston recently, heading a high-power delegation to announce the offer of 25 blocks for exploration of oil and gas in India.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting organized by the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston at the Westin Oaks hotel on Monday (Jan 22), Mr. Naik said that India had evolved a new licensing policy for the exploration of oil and gas. “We want to get involved in a serious way with exploration activities.”

Mr. S.K. Gangwar, Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, pointed out that India�s indigenous oil production stood at only 30 percent, with 70 percent of the country�s oil requirements having to be imported. Following the recent increase in the price of oil, India�s import bill this year was likely to exceed $19 billion, a huge burden on the economy.

Mr. Naik said that indigenous oil production in India had been neglected until recently. The Government of India had evolved a new exploration policy, and 25 contracts had been signed in April 2000 as part of Phase I of the new exploration licensing policy (NELP). This was a major step forward, given that the previous 22 contracts had been signed over a period of ten years. In addition, three major refineries are being built in the states of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab.

Mr. Naik pointed out that India has become self sufficient in food production, in spite of drought in three or four states. In fact, India has been exporting food to different countries, including food for oil to Iraq under the United Nations guidelines.

The Oil & Natural Gas ministry has announced an offer of 25 blocks for exploration of oil and gas under the second phase of NELP. These include eight deep water blocks on the west coast of India, eight shallow offshore blocks on the west and east coast of India and another nine blocks located on land.

Mr. Naik said that the Government of India was keen on promoting joint ventures. All the data has been digitized, and the agreements and procedures for collaboration have been standardized and streamlined. “Formerly it used to take two years to finalize an agreement, now we completed our first round contracts in seven month,” Mr. Naik added. Most importantly, he said that “red tape, bureaucracy, delays and corruption” should no longer be issues of concern for overseas investors. “Come to India to feel the difference,” he told members of the IACCGH and other guests.

Dr. Durga Agrawal, President of the IACCGH, also addressed the gathering and outlined the aims and objectives of the Chamber. Dr. Vishnu Hade, Deputy Consul General of India, introduced members of the Indian delegation, Mr. Jagdip Ahluwalia moderated the discussion and Mrs. Delshad Kumana, Executive Director of IACCGH, proposed the vote of thanks.