India and the US on Tuesday decided to set up a joint task force on natural gas with a view to promote strategic and economic interest of the two nations. The two sides, during the ministerial level talks, also reaffirmed their commitment to early and full implementation of their civil nuclear partnership, including the Westinghouse civil nuclear project at Kovvada, said a joint statement here.
The statement was issued after Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan and US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry co-chaired the inaugural meeting here today of the US-India Strategic Energy Partnership, which President Donald J Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced during their June 26, 2017 Summit in Washington, D.C. The statement said the cooperation in this area (nuclear energy) is being pursued through relevant bilateral mechanisms.
As a first step in realising the full potential of the Strategic Energy Partnership, the US and India are pleased to announce the US-India Natural Gas Task Force, it added. The task force provides a team of US and Indian industry experts with a mandate to propose, develop, and convey, innovative policy recommendations to the Government of India in support of its vision for natural gas in the economy of India.
The work of the task force is expected to advance the strategic and economic interests of both the US and India. The joint statement said that the strategic energy partnership teams will convene soon to further develop action plans for the respective pillars of cooperation. The US and Indian co-chairs will receive reports from the pillar teams on a regular basis.
Today, Perry and Pradhan led a high-level discussion with senior US and Indian government officials that outlined their vision for the strategic energy partnership and key areas of engagement.
Under the partnership, the US and India will pursue four primary pillars of cooperation: oil and gas, power and energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable growth and coal. Both parties may consider establishing additional pillars of cooperation based on mutual agreement, it said. The strategic energy partnership elevates the role of energy in advancing shared goals, including universal energy access, strengthened energy security and increased energy efficiency.
The partnership will create important opportunities for advancing favourable policies and commercial investments in support of these goals, including in natural gas markets. In keeping with the shared objectives to provide a stronger business orientation to our energy cooperation, both sides noted with appreciation the growing investment of Indian companies in the US and the beginning of oil and gas exports from the US to India, the statement.
The partnership affirms the strategic importance of energy cooperation to the US-India bilateral relationship and sets the stage for deeper and more meaningful engagements through government and industry channels. As leading global partners, the US and India believe that energy cooperation can serve as a centrepiece in the bilateral relationship, it added.
Through the partnership, the US and India collectively seek to enhance energy security, expand energy and innovation linkages across respective energy sectors, bolster our strategic alignment, and facilitate increased industry and stakeholder engagement in the energy sector.
During a press conference, responding to a question about the US inking International Solar Alliance (ISA) treaty, Perry said that promotion of renewable energy is more important than signing a document.
Earlier, during the ISA founding conference last month, the official had said the US and China are actively participating talks for inking ISA treaty. On the price of gas, Perry said the US and India share a lot of values. He was of the view that some countries can give cheaper gas but it is the long-term relation that matters.