New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi met energy barons from Houston in his first-ever engagement in the US, in an effort to increase import of oil and gas from America.
The engagement comes at a time when India is struggling to find newer partners to source energy from — a fall-out of the US-Iran crisis, a setback in Saudi Arabian oil supplies after the drone attack on two of the kingdom’s biggest oil fields, and the rising prices of crude oil.
At present, India imports oil and gas worth $4 billion annually from the US.
PM Modi reached Houston, the first stop on his week-long US visit, Saturday. He met the CEOs of 17 multinational energy firms at a roundtable meeting at The Post Oak Hotel. The firms include Baker Hughes, BP Plc., ExxonMobil, Tellurian Inc., Schlumberger, Emerson Electric Company, Total S.A., Dominion Energy and Westlake Chemicals.
The combined net worth of these companies is $1 trillion, and they have a presence in 150 countries. The PM also sought investment from them.
Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, tweeted that the meeting was “fruitful”.
Getting straight to business.
PM @narendramodi just concluded a fruitful interaction with top energy sector CEOs at a Roundtable meeting in #Houston. Discussion focused on working together for energy security and expanding mutual investment opportunities between India & US. pic.twitter.com/UHnEFd9Oll
— Anurag Srivastava (@MEAIndia) September 22, 2019
Kumar added in a statement: “The objective of the meeting was to deepen our energy cooperation as part of our strategic energy partnership. The CEOs talked about enhancing their footprint in India. They lauded government efforts towards ‘Ease of Doing Business’, steps taken towards deregulation in the sector, supported reforms and policies and were upbeat on the Indian economy.”
The PMO, meanwhile, tweeted: “Further energising India-USA friendship. Among the first engagements of PM @narendramodi in Houston is a meeting with CEOs from the energy sector. India and USA are looking to diversify cooperation in this sector.”
Further energising India-USA friendship.
Among the first engagements of PM @narendramodi in Houston is a meeting with CEOs from the energy sector.
India and USA are looking to diversify cooperation in this sector. pic.twitter.com/uqlozcTOAZ
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) September 21, 2019
Also read: The importance of Houston — why this Texan city was picked to host Howdy, Modi! show
Tellurian & Petronet sign MoU
On the sidelines of the roundtable, a Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between Houston-based energy giant Tellurian Inc. and Petronet LNG, India’s largest energy importer.
Under the MoU, Petronet will invest $2.5 billion in Tellurian’s proposed Driftwood LNG export terminal, in exchange for the rights to five million metric tons of LNG (liquefied natural gas) per year for 40 years. The negotiations will begin now.
Stage set for ‘Howdy, Modi!’
The stage is now set for Modi’s biggest ever show with Indians living abroad. At the event titled ‘Howdy, Modi! Shared Dreams, Bright Futures’, he is set to address about 50,000 members of the Indian-American community and NRIs with US President Donald Trump and a number of US lawmakers in tow.
This will be the first time that an American President will be addressing Indians living in the US along with an Indian head of government. For Modi, this will be his third time addressing the community in the US, after an event at Madison Square Garden in New York in 2014, and in San Jose, California, in 2015. But the crowd is expected to be bigger than those two events.
‘Howdy’, a shortening of ‘how do you do’, is the traditional Texan greeting. The event is being hosted at NRG Stadium, and Modi’s speech is expected to enumerate his government’s achievements in its first term and the steps taken so far in its second.
“It will be a great opportunity to emphasise the strong ties between the people of the United States and India, to reaffirm the strategic partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies, and to discuss ways to deepen their energy and trade relationship,” the White House had said in a press statement.
PM Modi will then head to New York, where he will stay until 27 September.
Also read: Modi faces lawsuit in Houston, and there’s a Khalistani lawyer behind the complaint
Two caveats. One, transport costs from America – or Russia – as compared to the Middle East. Second, the sun is setting on fossil fuels. Our transition to renewables needs to be much faster.
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