India to invest US$300 bn in oil

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April. 7 – Foreseeing an energy crisis in the near future, India is expected to spend US$300 billion on oil exploration and production over the next five to seven years M.S. Srinivasan, the Oil Ministry's top official told Bloomberg on Sunday.

The exploration and production business will become a US$5.2 trillion industry in the next five to seven years, Srinivasan told reporters in Mumbai. India, Asia's third-biggest oil consumer, is competing with countries such as Nigeria to attract exploration by global producers as domestic output falls.

The South Asian nation, the world's fastest-growing major economy after China, depends on imports for 70 percent of its oil needs. India plans to invest $450 million in oil exploration and production in Venezuela, the biggest crude oil exporting nation in the Americas, and will sign an agreement with state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA next week, Oil Minister Murli Deora said today in Mumbai.

ONGC Videsh Ltd., the overseas exploration unit of Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India's largest producer, is planning a venture with Petroleos de Venezuela to operate the San Cristobal area. These fields may hold reserves of as much as 250 million metric tons.

India must also compete with China, among others, to buy oil assets abroad as energy demand increases. India is likely to sign several deals exchanging oil and gas for technology with African nations this week. Although wooing natural resource rich Africa a decade after China, India is confident historical links and aid will help curb its energy needs.

China, the world's second-biggest energy consumer, boosted its spending on crude oil and natural gas exploration by 9.6 percent between January and November 2007 to meet rising demand. Only the U.S. uses more energy than China.