BHP Billiton said it will pull out of nearly all of its India oil and gas projects.

The company didn’t give a reason but local reports cited delays in getting exploration permits.

BHP, based in Sydney, Australia, could abandon all nine oil and gas exploration blocks it holds in India, Reuter’s said.

“The decision to relinquish these blocks is the result of an exploration portfolio review … there have been regular discussions and communications over the last 12 months with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas,” BHP said in a statement.

“BHP’s withdrawal from India, the world’s fourth largest fuel importer, comes at a time, when the country is looking to attract foreign investment and ahead of a likely fresh round of energy block auctions in January,” AFP said.

“This is a sad story for India’s E&P (exploration and production) sector. Sentiments are already negative and the exit of BHP Billiton is going to do more harm,” added R.S. Sharma, former chairman of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp.

BHP Billiton — the world’s biggest mining company, had complained earlier about red tape and delays in India that were hampering operations.


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