New Delhi: After a successful Indo-US dialogue on energy, the Centre is all set to initiate a similar dialogue with Japan, which will also explore the prospects for joint bids by both countries in oil exploration and production projects in Africa, Central Asia and Latin America.
To establish mutual cooperation in the sector, the government is setting up five working groups covering power and efficiency, oil and natural gas, coal, new technologies, renewable energy and transportation.
To give shape to the energy dialogue, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has mandated Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to start work on areas of mutual interests. Ahluwalia will travel to Japan in April this year, along with senior government officials, for the formation of the five working groups. At present, India imports more than 70% of its energy needs.
According to analysts, Japan tends to gain as much as India. “Japan also is largely dependent on oil imports, but its interest in a mutual cooperation with India is twofold. One, Japan can do joint bidding for oil and gas blocks in countries such as Africa, Central Asia and Latin America. Second, with Toshiba acquiring Westinghouse Electric UK Ltd, Japan is looking at India to spread its nuclear systems business,” said a Delhi-based energy analyst, who did not wish to be identified.
She added that joint bidding will help Japan reduce its risk and acquisition costs and enlarge its asset base.
Currently, both governments are in the process of establishing a steering committee, which will comprise senior government officials of various ministries, and will coordinate the working groups.
While the director general of natural resources and energy policy will spearhead the steering committee from the Japanese side, India will be represented by a joint secretary to the Union ministry of external affairs.
“Based on the meetings of these working groups, the government aims at arriving at concrete programmes of mutual cooperation in energy sector, which could be laid out when the Japan Prime Minister visits India later this year,” a government official said.
The current dialogue is in line with the Indo-US energy dialogue that was started in May 2005 when five working groups and a steering committee were set up. The working groups covered oil and gas, coal, power and energy efficiency, new technologies and renewable energy, and nuclear energy for civilian purposes.
The idea was to promote trade and investment in the energy sector. To achieve this, both public and private-sector involvement was sought to identify future areas of cooperation and collaboration.
One of the outcomes of the dialogue has been the imminent civilian nuclear partnership between India and the US. This is expected to increase the share of nuclear power from 3.05% in the installed 1.28-lakh MW power generation capacity of the country.