New Delhi: Iraq wants Indian participation in the development of its oil and gas, petrochemicals and fertilizer sectors, Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki told Petroleum Minister M. Veerappa Moily.

Moily, leading a 28-member delegation to the 17th session of the India-Iraq Joint Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation, met Al-Maliki shortly after he arrived in Baghdad on Saturday.

He informed Al-Maliki that Indian companies have the expertise to participate in many projects which were coming up in Iraq and India will also be interested in gas-based projects and importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Iraq, said an oil ministry statement on Monday.

Iraq in recent months has replaced sanctions-hit Iran as India's second-largest crude oil supplier after Saudi Arabia. Iraq, which produces 3.15 million barrels of crude a day and plans to double output by 2020, has promised to meet India's additional energy requirements with the increase in its production. Indian refineries purchased nearly 20 percent of Iraq's crude oil production during 2012-13.

During External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid's recent visit to Iraq, it was decided that the hydrocarbons buyer-seller relationship would graduate into a strategic partnership, through joint ventures, partnership in strategic reserves storage facility and investments in new and existing refineries and fertiliser plants.

In separate talks with Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, Moily offered to train Iraqi personnel in the oil and gas sector at training institutes in India. Indian Oil Corp has been training Iraqi oil officials in downstream refining and marketing.

Reliance Industries has been shortlisted for development of the multi-billion-dollar Nasiriya oilfield project in Iraq.

The India-Iraq Joint Commission deals, among others, with energy, agriculture, low-cost housing, higher education and tourism. The last meeting of the Joint Commission was held in 2007.

When Moily reiterated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's invitation to the Iraqi Prime Minister to visit New Delhi, Al-Maliki said he was planning the visit coming September, the statement added.


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