Benin invites Indian firms for oil and gas exploration

11 December 2011, Sweetcrude, NEW DELHI – The West African country of Benin has invited Indian companies to help develop its oil and gas sector.

“There is a lot of unexplored mineral reserves in Benin, especially in the oil and gas segment. We want India’s expertise in exploration to find these resources and use them,” said Chirstophe Kaki, director of cabinet, ministry of petroleum and mineral resources.

“I want to invite Indian companies to come and work with us in a mutually beneficial partnership.”

Unlike neighbouring Nigeria and Ghana, Benin has an underdeveloped exploration sector, which Kaki feels can be developed in collaboration with Indian companies.

Benin has also sought education and infrastructural support from India.

“We need geologist and other related professionals in the exploration field. India can also help in terms of providing education in this segment,” Kaki told IANS on the sidelines of the third India-Africa Hydrocarbon Summit 2011 being held in New Delhi.

“In terms of infrastructure, there is also an opportunity to collaborate,” said Kaki.

His views were corroborated by Gurjit Singh, additional secretary, East and South Africa, in the external affairs ministry. He said India was looking to develop long-term partnerships with African nations.

“We look at Africa not as a source of natural resources only. We believe Africa’s biggest resource is its inhabitants. Our policy is focused on developing human resource and capacity in Africa, so that the Africans can use this for their own benefit,” Singh said.

Singh also said that though India’s footprint in Africa’s oil and gas sector was comparatively smaller than that of China, it was a matter of time before the country caught up with its neighbour.

“Our footprint in oil sector is small, whereas some other countries have a larger footprint. But in many other sectors, we have a bigger footprint and it is only a matter of time and opportunity that our footprint becomes bigger.”

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