India has been offered two additional offshore oil exploration blocks in Vietnam. In addition, Vietnam has agreed to extend by another two years the opportunity for Indian oil companies to consider the option of exploring another offshore oil field, which was offered to it earlier.
The offers were made at the official level talks between the visiting Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Narendra Modi here on Tuesday. This is the second two-year extension that India has got for the oil block. It was first extended in 2012 for two years, which expired earlier this year. Official sources emphasised that the oil blocks offered were in Vietnam waters and were part of the original lot of five blocks which it had offered India some years back.
Following the talks an agreement was inked between ONGC Videsh Ltd and Petrovietnam Exploration Production Corporation Ltd (PVEP) for mutual cooperation for exploration in two blocks 102/10 and 106/10 of PVEP and Block 128 of ONGC Videsh in offshore Vietnam. In addition, ONGC signed a memorandum of understanding with PVEP for mutual cooperation for exploration in the NELP Blocks of ONGC in the Andaman and Cauvery Basins. With the two leaders agreeing that enhancing economic cooperation between the two countries should be pursued as a strategic objective, India extended a $300-million line of credit to expand trade and investment and enhanced Indian participation in energy, infrastructure, textiles, chemicals, machinery, agro-processing and information technology in Vietnam.
The two sides also decided to enhance the bilateral trade target to $15 billion to be achieved by 2020. To facilitate the process, Bank of India was given a licence to set up a bank in Vietnam. Addressing the media, after talks with the visiting dignitary, Modi said Vietnam’s recent decision on infrastructure projects for Indian companies, awarding a banking licence to Bank of India and starting direct air links through Jet Airways and Vietnam Airlines reflect the new momentum in economic relations between the two countries.
The Prime Minister added that India remains committed to the modernisation of Vietnam’s defence and security forces pointing out that this will include expansion of India’s training programme, holding of joint exercises and cooperation in defence equipment. “We will quickly operationalise the $100-million line of credit that will enable Vietnam to acquire new vessels from India,” the Prime Minister said. India has also agreed to increase cooperation in space, including in space applications and launch Vietnam’s satellites.
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