India and hydrocarbon-rich Qatar, also home to five lakh Indians, have signed six agreements to promote closer economic ties and cooperation in various fields such as education and tourism during the three-day state visit of Emir of the Middle East country Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, which concluded on Tuesday.
Petroleum minister S. Jaipal Reddy and Qatar's energy minister Mohammed Bin Saleh al-Sada signed the agreement to establish framework to enhance bilateral cooperation in oil and gas. The pact envisages cooperation in the upstream area of oil and gas exploration as well as downstream marketing of gas and investment in refineries and pipelines. The objective of the agreement is to encourage and promote investment and cooperation between the two ministries of oil and gas and through affiliated companies such as ONGC, Indian Oil and gas major Gail on one hand and Qatar Petroleum and Qatargas on the other.
The Emir was accompanied by his wife Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned and a delegation of ministers, senior officials and leading businessmen.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh also held talks with the Emir on a range of issues, including boosting trade and investment, as also cementing energy ties between the two countries. Issues relating to the welfare of the huge Indian workforce, which earns livelihood in the Gulf country and contributes to its economy, also came up for discussion during the visit.
Qatar is the largest supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to energy-hungry India and currently 7.5 million tonne is imported from the Middle-East country. India has expressed its keenness to import more LNG from Qatar but the high price being quoted by the Gulf country is posing a hurdle.
This was the third visit of the Qatari Emir to India, the last two being in 1999 and 2005. Singh visited Qatar in November 2008