* GAIL to sign deal with EDF Trading on Saturday
* Indian oil minister on a 10-day visit to the US
* India to push for gas imports from the US
By Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI, Feb 1 India's GAIL Ltd is
teaming up with a unit of French group EDF to jointly
scout for natural gas assets in the United States as demand in
India grows, its chairman said.
"We will be working together for gas trading, gas sourcing
and acquisition of gas based assets," B. C. Tripathi said, ahead
of a 10-day visit to the United States beginning Saturday with
oil minister Veerappa Moily.
He said state-owned GAIL would sign an agreement with EDF
Trading on Saturday.
On Friday India enhanced GAIL's financial powers, allowing
the firm to take investment decisions of up to 50 billion rupees
($940 million) without going to the government.
India, the world's fourth-largest oil importer, imports
about 80 percent of its crude needs, and has been scouting for
oil and gas assets overseas to satisfy rising local demand and
expanding refining capacity.
Problems at the Reliance Industries-operated D6
block, off India's east coast, have curtailed domestic gas
output while state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp is
struggling with declining production at its ageing fields.
The company's head of marketing Prabhat Singh said it was an
appropriate time to a strike deal in the United States, where
shale gas development has led to a glut in the gas market,
causing prices to plummet and meaning the government may
consider exports to energy-hungry Asia.
A senior oil ministry official said Moily's visit was aimed
at exploring further tie-ups with the US and pushing India's
case for importing gas.
India has asked the United States to supply liquid shale
gas, a government source said in May, as it continues to reduce
dependence on oil imports from Iran.