Wires

India's top refiner, Israel's Phinergy seal next generation battery deal

* Joint venture will produce metal-air batteries

* India seeking to curb pollution, fuel import dependency

NEW DELHI, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Indian Oil Corp, the country's top refiner, has bought a minority stake in Israel's Phinergy and signed a joint venture deal to produce metal-air batteries, an alternative to more mainstream lithium technology.

IOC Chairman Sanjiv Singh said the IOC could use its vast retail network to supply the automotive sector in India, where the government is pushing for a shift to electric vehicles to cut pollution and lower the country's fuel import bill.

"We are confident that this Al-Air battery technology would complement lithium-ion batteries to provide a hybrid solution for the large-scale adoption of electric vehicles," he said in a company statement on Tuesday.

The statement did not specify the size of the stake or how much the IOC had paid for it.

The IOC and Phinergy will set up a join venture in India to manufacture Al-Air batteries and to facilitate development of supporting infrastructure.

India, the world's third biggest oil importer and consumer, ships in over 80% of its overall needs from overseas, and is working to reduce that dependency.

In another step to diversify and clean up supplies, Singh said last week the IOC would install liquefied natural gas dispensers at fuel stations to serve some commercial vehicles able to run on the relatively cheap super cooled gas. (Reporting by Nidhi Verma; editing by Barbara Lewis)