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Doha Time & Temperature

Ravi Shankar Prasad ... seeking security in supplies
Gulf Times:
Economic growth relies on affordable supplies’Published: Tuesday, 11 March, 2008, 01:48 AM Doha Time

By Ramesh Mathew

Ravi Shankar Prasad ... seeking security in supplies
ENERGY security involves making energy resources available at affordable prices for sustainable economic growth, former Indian federal minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said yesterday.
Prasad highlighted this at a presentation on ‘Integrating energy with foreign policy and security’ at the ‘Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future Conference’ in Doha yesterday. The former Indian federal minister for information and broadcasting, Prasad is the main spokesperson of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Stressing that energy hungry economies like India, China and Japan would continue to rely on Gulf states for their requirements, with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and UAE jointly holding 70% of the world oil reserves, Prasad reiterated that “ensuring a peaceful atmosphere here is vital for not only the region but for growing economies everywhere”.

Strategic Concepts chairman Sean Clery, Economic Strategy Institute founder and president Clyde Prestowitz, Abdul Aziz Abu Hamad Aluwaisheg, director, Economic Integration Department at The Cooperation for the Arab States of the Gulf and Oman’s minister of commerce and industry, Maqbool Ali Sultan at the session on ‘Creating legal reform and trade registration in the Middle East’. Pictures: Jayaram and T K Nasar
The Indian parliamentarian said that West Asia, despite being a region in turmoil, has by and large been able to meet its obligations.
“So the strategic choice for us now is to extend and enhance co- operative approach,” which he said can be appreciated by the fact that energy ties now are governed by geo-political concerns.
The global energy space, he said, is dominated by USA, which besides being the leading market is perhaps the only nation to have the capacity to mobilise responses against risks associated with energy transactions, be it safety of trade route or checkmating terrorists attack.
The speaker said in no uncertain terms that dependence of the world on oil from the region is likely to increase considerably. “ Asia meets more than 75% of their requirements from the Gulf region alone,” he said.
Terming natural gas as the cleanest fuel, Prasad said its share is bound to increase substantially from its present 24% on account of its increasing availability here, highlighting that India relies heavily on Qatar for its gas requirements.
The speaker said India’s huge energy requirements make its foreign policy more relevant. National interest is important but so is the sensitivity of the country one is engaging with, he said. “Thus engagement would be both bilateral and multilateral.”
The former minister pointed out that it has been proved beyond doubt that India and China together would be responsible for more than 35% of the world’s energy consumption because of their growing requirements.
He said the prospects of the Asian energy market critically hinged upon the dynamics of the evolving energy relations between India and China.
“Besides the US, India and China are going to become major energy consumers and as a consequence, they would be key global energy players to influence the world energy scene,” said the Indian MP.
He said there could be intense competition between India and China for oil and the Indian anxiety of aggressive Chinese oil diplomacy cannot be underestimated.
“However, the gains are surely to be more profound if the two countries could synergise their moves and postures and competition is equally tempered by co-operation,” he said.
Highlighting the adverse aspects of terrorism to the world economic order, the speaker reiterated that it is neither country- nor region-specific.
Like many other nations, India too has been a victim of such attacks for so many years. “In recent times, our capitals - commercial (Mumbai), political (New Delhi), intellectual (Bangalore), economical (Hyderabad) and cultural (Ajmer and Varanasi) have fallen victims to such barbarous attacks,” said the former minister.
Calling upon the world powers to deal the issue of terrorism in a frontal and concerted manner, Prasad said they cannot afford to have any compromise on the issue.
“Our fight has to be directed not only against those who unleash terror but also against those powerful interests, which harbour and support terrorist elements for their narrow but ill conceived gains.”

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