Vol 3, PW 1 (03 Feb 99) Exploration & Production

Australia has banned ministerial visits from India, putting into jeopardy the last leg of the Indian NELP roadshow which was to have stopped off in Perth on 9 and 10 February.

The move is in protest at Indias decision to detonate five nuclear explosions in the desert of Rajasthan in May last year, an action widely condemned by Australia. The Australian decision was conveyed to the Indian High Commission, which in turn passed it on to the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.

Strangely, Australia appears ready to accept visits by technical officers, thus excluding the likes of Avinash Chandra and his DGH colleagues from the ban. The ban seems directed solely at the oil minister Vazhappady Ramamurthy and his junior, Santosh Gangwar, the only politicians on the team.

However, it appears unlikely that India will accept a diktat from Australia on who should visit and Perth now looks likely to be dropped from the itinerary. Tokyo has been mentioned as an alternative, but it now seems that Singapore is the only confirmed roadshow location for interested Australian companies.

In London, the following oil companies attended the roadshow on 27 January:- Cairn Energy Repsol British Gas Petrofina Spectrum Energy Tullow Oil Maersk Oil Total Ocean Energy Simco Petroleum British Borneo Murphy Petroleum Cluff Oil Phillips Petroleum Elf Aquitaine Jehan Energy ENI Gaz De France Unocal Bharat In Delhi, the vast majority of the 200 visitors on 22 January came from Indian companies such as ONGC, IOC Reliance and Larsen & Toubro. Total, Chevron, Enron, British Gas, Marubeni also sent representatives.