Battling a slowing economy, government on Tuesday implored oil cartel OPEC to not undertake deeper crude oil production cuts as it renewed its pitch for reasonable pricing of oil and stability in supplies.
In a meeting with OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan also pitched for better commercial terms for crude oil imports including reduction in official selling price, extension of credit period from existing 30 days to 90 days from bill of lading, freight discount and open credit based on creditworthiness of Indian state-run refineries.
"We discussed the present oil availability scenario," he told reporters here. "Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is now taking cognizance of consumer interest in deciding on its policies." The oil cartel, he said, will meet in December and hoped it would not announce new cuts in production. "We hope that in the current geopolitical situation, OPEC does not exercise greater production cuts. We sincerely believe that crude prices should be left to market forces of demand and supply. We have been consistently advocating maintaining an optimal balance between the producers and consumers for responsible pricing, which balances the interests of both the producer and consumer," he said.
Mr Pradhan said the voice of India, the world's third-largest energy consumer behind the US and China, is now being heard and OPEC Secretary-General has been taking its views to the meetings of the producers.
OPEC nations led by Iraq and Saudi Arabia supply more than 80 per cent of India's oil needs and any cut in output is likely to push up prices - something that a slowing economy cannot afford. He said OPEC members such as Abu Dhabi have been very supportive of making up any production shortfall in the aftermath of attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
Companies have started exploring alternate sources for crude oil, to ensure that import basket is widely spread out, to counter any eventuality of a sudden supply shortage. The minister said he is encouraging Indian firms to look for investment opportunities in producing assets. "Our companies are engaged with OPEC member countries for further investment opportunities."
India, he said, attaches a lot of importance to the India-OPEC Institutional Dialogue and New Delhi looks forward for the fourth round at mutually convenient dates.
Earlier speaking at the India Energy Forum of CERAWeek, Barkindo said India's enthusiasm for producer and consumer dialogue has contributed enormously to OPEC's success in restoring sustainable stability to the world oil market.
India, he said, is one of the major drivers of global economic and oil demand growth. "Our latest figures for India show that oil demand increased in August by 0.12 million barrels per day (mb/d) for the second month running with a total consumption of 4.61 mb/d. The country's oil demand growth in 2019 is estimated at 0.14 mb/d year-on-year, accounting for 15 per cent of global oil demand growth."
While world oil demand is expected to rise by 14.5 mb/d, increasing from 97.2 mb/d in 2017 to nearly 112 mb/d in 2040, India will account for oil demand growth of 5.8 mb/d, which represents an astonishing 40 per cent of the overall increase. "India is projected to see the largest additional oil demand and the fastest growth (3.7 per cent per annum) in the period to 2040," he said.
He said OPEC demonstrated repeatedly its commitment to sustainable stability, even during unprecedented events like the attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities one month ago.
"In the immediate aftermath of these shocking attacks, Saudi Arabia moved swiftly to ensure a stable supply to the global market as it worked to restore its production capacity. Its exemplary handling of the situation very quickly stabilized markets and allayed concerns about supply disruptions," he said. "Additionally, the oil industry is in a much stronger position today to deliver a sustainable energy supply than it was just three years ago."
He said OPEC has been since 2016 adjusting productions by the 'Declaration of Cooperation' which provides for a durable foundation for the opportunity to facilitate dialogue with consumers; promote a better understanding of market fundamentals; support energy sustainability, and promote technological advancement.
"OPEC does not believe in one-way streets. Throughout the 'Declaration' process we've been diligent in listening to the views of India and other oil-consuming nations. The 'Charter' provides a further means to engage in a constructive and consultative process," he said.
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