India and the US are set to deepen their bilateral energy cooperation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi choosing Houston for his first stop, and the mega 'Howdy Modi' event that will see US President Donald Trump also attend in a rare gesture.
Houston is known as the US' oil and gas capital. The two nations had last year inked the US-India Strategic Energy Partnership to enhance energy cooperation.
Indian Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla said that Modi after he arrives in Houston will attend an event with some of the top CEOs of energy companies. Being a hub for energy, Houston is in focus, he said.
"Our cooperation with the US in the energy sector has increased significantly because of interest in the US' shale oil and LNG sector. We are also looking for technologies for the Indian energy companies. The PM would be meeting some of the top companies in the energy sector, and most are headquartered in Houston," Shringla said.
CEOs of 16 leading American companies will attend the roundtable with the Prime Minister in Houston on Saturday, including Baker Hughes, BP, Cheniere Energy, Dominion Energy, Emerson Electric Company, ExxonMobil, Perot Group and Hillwood, IHS Markit, LyondellBasell Industries, McDermott, Schlumberger, Tellurian, Total, Air Products, Vinmar International and Westlake Chemicals.
India, the world's third largest oil importer, has been concerned over the Saudi oilfield attacks and also after New Delhi stopped its oil imports from Iran following ending of the US' conditional waiver.
Both countries are keen to increase cooperation, particularly with respect to shale and liquefied natural (LNG) gas.
India purchased about 1,84,000 barrels per day (bpd) oil from the US from November 2018 to May 2019, compared with about 40,000 bpd in the same period a year ago, according to data.
More than 28 Houston-based companies operate 69 subsidiaries in India. Houston is also the fourth-largest gateway for bilateral trade between the two countries. India is Houston's 10th largest trading partner, with trade valued at over $4.3 billion, a 36 per cent increase from the previous year.
The figure is an impressive one, particularly when one considers the ongoing trade irritants testing the broader US-India economic relationship, according to a Forbes report.
Over 150,000 residents in Houston are Indian American, with more than half born in India.
According to another Forbes report, around 175,000 Houston-based employees are working directly in production, oil services and machinery and fabricated metals, while thousands more serve as suppliers or contractors.