At a time when India is trying to downsize its oil import bill, trade delegations led by premiers of western Canadian provinces are planning to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team.
Come September, the premier of British Columbia (BC) Christy Clark is likely to visit India. The provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Quebec play a major role in Canada's energy security.
Sources said a delegation of senior ministers of the Canadian government along with representatives of companies involved in oil and gas, power, petrochemicals, fertilizers and coal sectors are likely to visit India.
Speaking to BUSINESS TODAY, Steve Carr, Deputy Minister for Natural Resources in BC, said the Canadian government is looking for a closer partnership with Indian companies. He said the British Columbia government wants Indian companies to invest in the manufacturing sector and also lay crucial pipelines that could help the province transfer oil from inland Alberta to its ports.
In February, India's biggest refiner Indian Oil Corporation had received a cargo of million barrels of heavy oil from Alberta-based oil producer Husky Energy Inc. Through similar moves Canada seems to be slowly positioning itself as the exporter of North American oil.
In Canada, Indian companies are competing with players from China, Korea and Japan.
According to Tim Lisevich, Managing Director (investment and corporate banking) at BMO Capital Markets, most of the Indian firms that evince interest in Canadian assets are not confident of partnering with smaller firms there. Carr hopes that the new dispensation in Delhi will soon set things right.
Officials in the Canadian government say there is a very good scope for Indian companies to be part of integrated oil exploration projects. "The delegation led by the premier will discuss several such propositions. We understand that India wants to diversify its energy mix and sources. We also want to diversify our sources. It is just a perfect marriage," says Carr.
BC is expecting federal government nod to the 'controversial' $7 billion Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project across the state that connects hydrocarbon sources to the pacific coast. Carr says that there are issues related to sharing of royalties between BC and Alberta and talks are on.
Earlier this year, IOCL had bought 10 per cent stake in Pacific Northwest LNG from Malaysia's Petronas Group. This had given IOCL access to at least 8.35 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves in BC fields controlled by Petronas's Progress Energy Canada Ltd. IOCL aims to bring LNG from there to India.
In Quebec, Indian fertilizer company IFFCO riding on cheap gas available there is all set to start a fertilizer plant. Meanwhile, Saskatchewan province is seeking Indian investment in mining of uranium, a much-need resource for India's nuclear power plants.
(The writer is in Calgary on the invitation of the Candian government)