(Fixes typo in brokerage name in paragraph 13)
* Vows to hasten decision-making in bid to lure foreign
* Will push domestic oil firms to bid for energy assets
* Expresses concern over rising losses of state fuel
NEW DELHI/MUMBAI, Oct 29 India's new oil
minister has promised to speed decision making in an effort to
attract foreign investment, and will push domestic oil companies
to aggressively bid for foreign oil and gas assets to meet
growing energy demand.
Veerappa Moily was appointed as the country's new Petroleum
and Natural Gas Minister, replacing Jaipal Reddy, as part of a
broader cabinet reshuffle unveiled on Sunday.
Moily said his ministry would create a roadmap to help the
energy-starved nation improve its investment climate and
increase oil and gas output and build downstream infrastructure,
such as liquefied natural gas terminals and pipeline networks.
"We have to keep our doors and windows open for whosoever
wants to invest here," Moily told reporters on Monday.
"We have to create a level of confidence among investors.
The emphasis will be on quick decisions as delayed decisions
cost the nation."
Shares in Reliance Industries rose nearly 2
percent on hopes the appointment of a new oil minister would
improve what has been seen as a contentious relationship between
the energy conglomerate and the Indian government.
Reliance, controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, Asia's
second-richest man, had clashed with the oil ministry under
Reddy over gas output at the conglomerate's KG-D6 block on
India's east coast.
Reliance and partner BP Plc have blamed a decline in
pressure and water ingress for falling production, and sought an
increase in gas prices to justify higher expenditure to develop
the block, but the government has so far remained unconvinced.
Asked if he favoured a revision in the price of gas from the
D6 block earlier than a review scheduled for 2014, Moily
declined to address the matter specifically.
"I don't want to take name of any particular company ... It
is a matter of detail ... Decisions will be quick and hastened,"
Moily's appointment will be weclomed by investors, said one
industry analyst at a large domestic brokerage, who declined to
"Sentiment-wise this would be positive, as with the earlier
minister approvals were not coming on time. Talks between the
company and the ministry may improve."
Moily may fast-track some approvals, said V.K. Vijayakumar,
an investment strategist at Geojit BNP Paribas.
"Further approval regarding the joint application by
Reliance Industries and BP for KG-D6 gas might get expedited,
that is one possibility," he said.
Moily said India had attracted $13 billion worth of
investment in the nine auctions held under its licensing policy
India plans to relax rules for oil and gas exploration
licences in time for the next bidding round, so as to attract
global companies. In the past, regulatory uncertainty
discouraged many of them from bidding for exploration blocks.
Moily said there was a need to boost investment in the
exploration sector, adding that he would mobilise resources
through every avenue, including getting the external affairs
ministry to encourage local oil companies to buy assets abroad.
Without directly touching upon cuts in fuel subsidies, he
expressed concern over mounting revenue losses at state fuel
retailers, adding, "There are inefficiencies in the system that
have to be removed."
Many of India's gas-based power plants are idle as domestic
gas output has declined and infrastructure to import and supply
gas is inadequate.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma in NEW DELHI and Rafael Nam in
MUMBAI; Editing by Tony Munroe and Clarence Fernandez)