By SAURABH CHATURVIDI
NEW DELHI -- Canada is focusing its attention on India and other Asian countries as it seeks to reduce its dependence on the US for exports of hydrocarbons, according to the country's Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver.
The US is rapidly decreasing its reliance on energy imports - including from its No. 1 supplier, Canada - due to a production boom from unconventional sources owing to advances in gas and oil extraction from shale.
Canada's search for alternative destinations, including India, China and Japan, for its trove of hydrocarbon resources coincides with India seeking stable supplies of oil and gas to augment its own, relatively limited, energy resources, which currently satisfy less than a quarter of its requirement.
"It is never smart to have one customer," Mr. Oliver said in an interview here. "The US is going to need less of our energy and they are also paying us at significant discount to international prices."
India is particularly concerned about securing supplies of natural gas given rapidly dwindling production at its main gas fields that is forcing it to increasingly rely on expensive imports.
"We can be a stable partner to meet [India's] energy needs," Mr. Oliver said.
Liquefied natural gas imports from Canada would help India to diversify its energy supply beyond its traditional partners.
India has been making efforts to increase supplies of crude oil and LNG from Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq to compensate for reduced imports from Iran in the face of sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic's trading partners by the US and the European Union.
Canada exports 1.4 billion Canadian dollars of energy products to India a year, accounting for more than half of its total exports to the country. The two countries are working out plans to triple their overall annual trade to C$15 billion by 2015. Mr. Oliver said Canada plans to triple its energy exports to India in the coming years, but he didn't specify a time frame.
Canada, like the US, has a glut of natural gas from shale, with pipelines to the US currently being its main export outlet. However, plans are in the works to build up its LNG infrastructure to rapidly increase its ability to export gas to destinations including India, Mr. Oliver said.
Mr. Oliver, who is in India to meet with local industry representatives and promote investments in his country, said he welcomes Indian companies interested in acquiring energy assets and entering into long-term business partnerships in Canada - especially in the energy sector.
Mr. Oliver said that although China is taking the lead in buying out energy assets worldwide, including in Canada, "there is enough room for Indian companies."
A consortium of Indian state-run companies has bid to acquire stakes in oil-sands assets owned by ConocoPhillips in Canada that are valued around $5 billion, senior executives at Oil & Natural Gas and Oil India said on Sept. 25.
Mr. Oliver said that over the next decade, Canada expects as many as 600 projects valued at more than C$650 billion in the resources sector to start production.
Dow Jones Newswires