India, Kazakhstan to expand oil, gas, nuclear ties

India and Kazakhstan plan to expand collaboration in the field of energy, including hydrocarbons and nuclear power sectors, as well as expanding the International North-South Transport Corridor by linking it to the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran rail link, an Indian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas release said on Wednesday after two-day meeting of the Indo-Kazakhstan Intergovernmental Commission (IGC).

Intergovernmental Commission with Kazakhstan was co-chaired by Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan that ended on Wednesday in Astana, an official statement said. The Kazakhstan delegation to the talks was led by its Energy Minister Kanat Bozumbayev.

The two sides discussed “ideas for stepping up the cooperation in energy sector, trade, economic, investment, transport and connectivity, agriculture, information technology, space, healthcare and cultural spheres between the two countries,” the statement said.

“Both leaders agreed to collaborate in the oil and gas sector for mutual benefit and further strengthen the engagement by addressing issues of concerns to Indian investors, particularly in Kazakh hydrocarbon sector,” it said.

“They explored possibility of expanding the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) by linking it to the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran rail link,” it added.

This transport corridor is a 7,200 km multi-mode network of ship, rail and road for transporting cargo between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia. It mainly involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia via this network.

“Kazakhstan is strategically located between Europe and Asia and offers enormous business opportunities for investments. The country is rich in mineral resources, such as uranium, oil and natural gas,” the statement said.

Bozumbayev invited Indian investments in various sectors, especially in hydrocarbons, infrastructure, nuclear energy, co-production of films, food processing and information technology, it added.

Pradhan was accompanied by a delegation of officials from various ministries, the Railway Board and the state-run oil explorer’s foreign arm ONGC Videsh Ltd.