Big energy deals likely during Prince Salman’s visit

India and Saudi Arabia are expected to sign mega deals in energy and infrastructure to put meat in strategic partnership when the Gulf kingdom’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, visits New Delhi on February 19-20.

On his maiden trip to India as the Crown Prince, Salman is expected to announce investment proposals in key sectors as Saudi Arabia aims to increase its economic footprints in India that currently remain low, people familiar with the matter indicated to ET.

India will try to impress on the Crown Prince to reduce the Asian premium on crude oil imported by India, which if Riyadh agrees to will help the government keep fuel prices stable in an election season, one of the people said. He is also travelling to China, Malaysia and Pakistan in his maiden Asian trip in his current capacity, as Saudi aims to create global footprints and keep economy well oiled.

Saudi Arabia’s investments in India remain relatively low despite its financial clout and the upward trajectory of Indo-Saudi political ties. But Riyadh is planning to invest in India’s energy sector in a big way. India and Saudi are expected to deepen strategic partnership in areas including security, counter-terror, defence and economy.

Saudi Aramco, the national petroleum company, signed a $44-billion deal in April 2018 with an Indian consortium to acquire a 50% stake in Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd. UAE-based ADNOC, too, signed an agreement to pick up 25% of Saudi Aramco’s share in the Ratnagiri project.

After a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Crown Prince in Buenos Aires last November, the two nations had decided to set up a mechanism for promoting Saudi Investments across energy, defence, food security and manufacturing sectors over the next 2-3 years.

The Crown Prince is learnt to have informed the Prime Minister on that occasion that Saudi would be finalising an initial investment into India’s National Infrastructure Fund. He also referred to the prospects for investment in technology, agriculture and energy sectors.

Modi had then urged the Crown Prince on the importance of stable and predictable energy prices and some discussions had taken place between the two leaders on how Saudi could contribute to and help stabilise the energy prices, particularly for India.

Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner, after China, the US and the UAE.

“Saudi Arabia is a major source of energy as we import around 17% of our crude oil requirement from the kingdom. In 2017-18, the India-Saudi bilateral trade increased 9.56% to $27.48 billion. During this period, our imports from Saudi Arabia reached $22.06 billion, registering an increase of 10.5% over the previous year ($19.97 billion), whereas our exports to Saudi Arabia reached $5.41 billion, registering an increase of 5.88% over the previous year ($5.11 billion),” according to a foreign ministry document.

The current bilateral trade (April-October 2018, provisional figures) is valued at $19.64 billion. Saudi Arabia was the 15th largest market in the world for Indian exports, and the destination to 1.85% of India’s global exports in 2017-18. It was also the third largest source of India’s global imports.

For Saudi Arabia, as per 2017 data, India was the fourth largest market for its exports, accounting for 8.88% of its total shipments. In terms of imports, India ranked seventh and was the source of around 4.13% of its imports.

According to the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), there were 322 Indian companies operating as joint ventures or wholly owned entities, worth $1.4 billion, in the kingdom in December 2017.

These companies worked in projects in sectors such as management and consultancy services, construction, telecommunications, IT and pharmaceuticals.

Saudi Arabia ranks 48 in terms of India-bound investments between April 2000 and June 2018 with a funding of $208.38 million. Saudi petrochemical giant SABIC set up its R&D unit in Bengaluru with an investment of more than $100 million in November 2013. Saudi-headquartered Al-Fanar is executing a 300mw power project in Kutch. Many other companies have invested in India through their non-Saudi subsidiaries. Source: The Economic Times, Feb 12, 2019

Govt to set up 12,000 MW solar power projects with Rs 8,580-crore funding

Source: Business Standard, Feb 06, 2019

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday gave its nod to a proposal for setting up 12,000 MW grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) power projects with an estimated viability gap funding of Rs 8,580 crore.

The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said here.

The proposal seeks to implement “the Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSU) Scheme Phase-ll for setting up 12,000 MW grid-connected Solar PV Power Projects, by the Government Producers with Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support of Rs 8,580 crore for self-use or use by Government or Government entities, both Central and State Governments”, an official statement said.

With the implementation of the scheme, 12,000 MW or more of grid-connected solar PV power projects would be set up by government producers in four years (2019-20 to 2022-23), thereby creating investment of about Rs 48,000 crore, it said.

“The Scheme will mandate use of both solar photovoltaic (SPV) cells and modules manufactured domestically as per specifications and testing requirements fixed by MNRE (Ministry of New & Renewable Energy),” it added.

The scheme aims to provide direct employment to about 60,000 persons for about one year in pre-commissioning activities/construction phase and to around 18,000 persons for about 25 years in the operation and maintenance period.

In addition, more than 1.2 lakh employment opportunities will be created for the local population by way of involvement in setting up of solar power projects and also in manufacturing of domestically produced cells and modules, the release said.

The CCEA also approved a proposal for continuation of the scheme of ‘Exploration of Coal and Lignite’ with an expected expenditure of Rs 1,875 crore.

“The approved scheme is for carrying out 24,41,500 meter of drilling and 3,575 line km (LKM) of surface geophysical survey for Promotional (Regional) Exploration & Detailed drilling in Non CIL Block in Coal and Lignite along with CBM/Shale gas studies and associated studies to estimate and prove coal resources during 3 years period,” another release said.

Under the scheme, about 7 billion tonnes of resources will be established and 11 billion tonnes of resources will be proved.

India, Afghanistan and Iran agree to allow cargo movement at Chabahar port

Source: Business Standard, Dec 24, 2018

New Delhi: A crucial trilateral meeting of officials from India, Afghanistan and Iran on the strategically-important Chabahar port was held on Monday during which they agreed on the routes for trade and transit corridors between the three countries.

The first meeting of the follow-up committee for implementation of the trilateral Chabahar agreement between India, Afghanistan and Iran at the level of Joint Secretary or Director General was held in the Iranian port city of Chabahar, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

On the occasion, India Ports Global Limited company opened its office and took over operations at the Shaheed Behesti port at Chabahar.

Positive and constructive discussions were held between the three sides on full operationalisation of the Trilateral Transit Agreement for international transit and transport through the Chabahar Port. They agreed on the routes for the trade and transit corridors between the three countries, the MEA said. Read the rest of this entry »

Govt mulls round 2 of 2,500 Mw medium-term power purchase agreement auction

Source: Business Standard, Nov 13, 2018

New Delhi: Buoyed by a good response for the first tender of mid-term (3 years) power purchase agreement auction, the power ministry will bring its second round for 2,500 Mw capacities to give relief to stressed power assets, Power Secretary A K Bhalla said Tuesday.

A PPA is a prerequisite for getting coal supplies for power plants.

Power sector is facing stress due to coal shortage and other issues. Many power projects are starving for coal in the absence of PPAs. The government’s scheme to auction 2,500 MW medium-term PPAs evoked good response and PPAs for 1,900 Mw capacities were signed under the scheme last month.

“We found that a lot of interest is coming up for (the scheme to auction) 2,500 Mw medium-term PPAs. So definitely there would be PPAs coming up (on the block). This was a pilot. We will try to bring a formal scheme for another round of 2,500 Mw medium-term PPAs. Read the rest of this entry »

India, Iran, Afghanistan hold first trilateral meet on Chabahar in Tehran

Source: Business Standard, Oct 24, 2018

New Delhi: The first trilateral meeting between India, Afghanistan and Iran of the Coordination Council of the Chabahar Agreement took place on October 22 in Tehran.

The Indian delegation was led by TS Tirumurti, Secretary (Economic Relations), while the Afghan and Iran delegations were led by respective Deputy Ministers of Transport.

“Detailed discussions were held between the three sides on full operationalisation of the trilateral agreement for international transit and transport through Chabahar Port,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a press release. Read the rest of this entry »

RBI grants licence to Bank of China to set up branch in India

download (2).jpgSource: Business Standard, Jul 05, 2018

New Delhi: The Reserve Bank of India has issued licence to Bank of China to launch operations in India, official sources said today.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made a commitment to Chinese President Xi Jinping to allow Bank of China to set up branches in India when they met on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Chinese city of Qingdao last month.

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10 more Smart Cities to be announced soon: Hardeep Puri

Source: The Economic Times, Jan 16, 2018

The names of 10 more cities to be funded under the Centre’s flagship Smart City Mission will be announced soon, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said today.

The housing and urban affairs ministry has till now announced the names of 90 cities that the government aims to help under the scheme.

Under the scheme, each city will get Rs 500 crore as central assistance for implementing various projects.

“The Smart Cities Mission is progressing at a brisk pace. Ninety cities have been selected so far.

The selection of 10 more cities will be announced shortly,” Puri, the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs, said at an event here.

He said there were about 3,000 projects worth Rs 1,40,000 crore at various stages of implementation under the scheme.

Tax clarity for subsidiary model of foreign banks

Source: Business Standard, Nov 20, 2017

New Delhi: The government has proposed to make it clear which foreign banks converting their branches in India into subsidiaries would be exempt from capital gains tax. Experts said this would address the tax concerns of foreign banks planning to operate in India via the subsidiary route. But non-tax matters would still guide their plans.

After the RBI had issued a framework for converting foreign banks’ branches into subsidiaries in 2013, only DBS Bank and State Bank of Mauritius had received in-principle approval to adopt this route. The income-tax department recently came out with a draft notification that gave detailed operational conditions to ensure foreign banks converting branches into subsidiaries were exempted from capital gains tax. It also proposed to allow carry forward of minimum alternate tax credit.

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Foreign investors return to Indian markets

Source:, Nov 10, 2017

Mumbai: Foreign institutional investors (FIIs), who took a break from buying Indian shares in August and September, are returning after recent government announcements such as the Rs2.11 trillion PSU bank recapitalisation plan. FIIs are mainly buying into new shares.

Over October and November so far, FIIs have invested a net of $1.9 billion in Indian equities. For the year to date, they are buyers to the tune of $7.4 billion.

“It is the general pick-up in global inflows to emerging markets, and India is gaining. Also, the recent bank reforms in India are leading to expectations that there could be more reforms underway,” said Gautam Chhaochharia, head of research at UBS Securities India Pvt. Ltd.

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India to sign pact with Japan for setting up flexible LNG market

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Oct 11, 2017

New Delhi: The Cabinet gave its nod to signing a host of MoUs including one Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with Japan for liquefied natural gas that would enable establishing a liquid, flexible and global LNG market.

Speaking to reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister for Petroleum, Natural Gas and Skill Development, said, “The MoC provides a framework to cooperate in facilitating flexibility in LNG contracts, abolition of destination clause and in exploring possibilities of cooperation in establishing reliable spot price indices reflecting true LNG demand and supply.”

Elaborating the Minister said, “This will open the opportunity for technical and knowledge base sharing with Japan in LNG. Currently, India has an agreement with Australia for natural gas, while Japan has one with Qatar. Through this agreement, we can explore options such as swapping cargoes from these sources.”

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