Puri says India will play market card, to buy oil from wherever it gets cheaper

India shunned western pressures to raise imports from Russia in last year
Last Updated : 06 February 2023, 16:48 IST
Last Updated : 06 February 2023, 16:48 IST

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India, the world's third-largest energy consumer, will buy oil from wherever it can get on a predictable and sound basis, Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Monday emphasising the country will play its market card.

India shunned western pressures to raise imports from Russia in last year. Russia, whose oil is available at discount due to some western nations slapping sanctions, is now India's top oil supplier.

"I will be very frank, we will play the market card," he said at India Energy Week here. "We will import from wherever it is available on a predictable and sound basis."

From just 0.2 per cent of all oil imported by India, Russia in January supplied 28 per cent.

Not just diversifying supply sources, India is also rapidly moving towards alternate energy sources.

"And we are drastically increasing our transition to green energy, which means biofuels, compressed biogas, green hydrogen and so on," he said.

Puri said energy security means at least availability, supply, predictability, stability, and affordability.

" But if the global system confronts what can only be called a crisis, or in this case you had multiple crises—food, fertilisers, and fuel—and the amount of energy available for the 100 miliion bpd required for consumption, say falls short by 1-2 million barrels, then prices will shoot up," he said.

The countries which do not have the bandwidth to cushion this kind of mismatch are most vulnerable, he said.

India used a combination of tax cuts and price freeze to insulate the consumers from energy prices shooting up sharply in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Therefore, from my point of view, in a large democracy like India where 60 million people go to the petrol pump every morning to fill up, where 5 million barrels of crude are consumed in a day, energy security means not having to worry about whether that crude is going to be available or not.

"And I think we were able to manage that. Now we come to price. We were able to manage at the height of the crisis because the central government took a hit and decreased its excise duty on petrol and diesel on two occasions—in November 2021 and May 2022," he said.

Puri said the government will the country does not face the same situation again.

"We are drastically increasing our area under exploration and production, we are entering into long-term supply arrangements, and since we are the world's third-largest consumer," he said.

Energy security, he said, has far more ramifications for countries which are neither oil producers, heavily dependent on imports, and whose economic situation at the time means high energy prices could have the effect of derailing their economy.

Published 06 February 2023, 16:48 IST

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