Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump at the ‘Howdy Modi’ event in Houston. Photo: Reuters

Huge potential for US-India ties in energy sector, ready to meet demand: US

Larry Kudlow, economic advisor to Trump, said that talks are going on between India and the US on a trade deal that could be inked during the visit of the president


The US is ready to supply oil and gas to energy-hungry India as much as it wants as there is a huge potential for bilateral cooperation in the key sector, a top White House official has said ahead of President Donald Trump's maiden visit to the country.

Larry Kudlow, economic advisor to Trump, said that talks are going on between India and the US on a trade deal that could be inked during the visit of the president.

He made the statement while responding to a question about the progress on a trade deal ahead of the presidential visit.

On Tuesday, Trump said he was looking forward to his first visit to India this month and signalled his willingness to sign a trade agreement with New Delhi "if we can make the right deal".

Trump will pay a state visit to India on February 24 and 25 at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Responding to another question on the increase in export of energy to India, Kudlow said there is a much greater potential.

"Could be, hope so. Let's remove all the barriers. They (Indians) need energy. We have the energy.

"When we had our bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister Modi, I said, you give me a number (to export energy from the US to India) and I'll meet it," Kudlow said.

In his State of the Union address last week, President Trump said: "The United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world, by far".

In the last few years, America's export of energy to India increased from zero to $8 billion last year and this year it is expected to increase to $10 billion.

"Our energy trade touched close to $8 billion last year. Mind you, this was zero, a few years ago," India's new ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu said in his remarks at a reception hosted in his honour by the US India Business Council.

"In fact in 2013, I testified before the House Energy Committee advocating US energy exports to India. In 2017, our leadership decided to elevate our energy partnership to a strategic energy partnership," Sandhu said.

According to the US State Department, US energy exports are an important area of growth in the trade relationship. In 2018, India purchased 48.2 million barrels of US crude oil, a significant increase from 9.6 million in 2017.

India and the US have established a Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) replacing the erstwhile Energy Dialogue. This was done during the last meeting held in New Delhi on April 17, 2018 between Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan and US Secretary for Energy Rick Perry.

The SEP has four primary pillars of cooperation -- Oil and Gas; Power and Energy Efficiency; Renewable Energy and Sustainable Growth; and Coal.

As a first step, they also announced the establishment of US-India Natural Gas Task Force to support India's vision for natural gas. The two sides also reaffirmed their strong commitment to early and full implementation of the civil nuclear energy partnership, including the Westinghouse civil nuclear project in Kovvada.