Government urges OPEC to reconsider output cut decision

New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday urged OPEC countries to consider striking a balance between the interest of producers and consumers when deciding on output cuts.

Inaugurating the “12th Petrotech” international conference on hydrocarbons, the Minister said it was on account of low global crude oil prices that the government had been able to spread the reach of LPG, or cooking gas, as clean fuel in rural India.

“The fall in oil prices in the last two years came as a timely relief for the Indian economy and consumers, which has helped us increase the penetration of cleaner fuel, replacing polluting biomass, among the poorer segments of society,” Pradhan said.

“For the sustainability of the oil markets, we must strike a balance of interest between producers and consumers. In June last year at an OPEC event, I had submitted the view point of India,” he said.

At a meeting in Vienna last week, the 13-nation OPEC cartel decided to reduce its production by 1.2 million barrels a day, beginning January 1.

With non-OPEC countries also agreeing to a production cut of 0.6 million barrels per day, oil prices regained the psychological $50 a barrel level, while “speculation is rife that it might go up even further,” Pradhan said.

“Consumption of petroleum products is price sensitive, as there is a genuine issue of affordability for a sizable population in India and other developing countries.

“Hence, while deciding the pricing aspect of crude oil, it should be factored in that the security of supply must, in turn, be matched by the security of demand,” he added.

Pradhan pointed out that India is already the world’s third-largest energy consumer behind the US and China at 4.3 million barrels per day.

“Although we have a less than 5 per cent share in the world consumption, our annual consumption growth is far more significant. At 300,000 barrels per day growth, our contribution was about 30 per cent of the global growth in demand last year.”

Though international projections predict a very high growth rate in Indian energy consumption, higher oil prices will risk this growth trajectory and deprive the underprivileged sections of society from access to energy, the Minister added.

The Indian oil and gas sector will need investments worth nearly $600 billion up to 2030, which provides ample opportunities for companies to invest across the hydrocarbon value chain, Pradhan said.

The Indian basket of crude oils closed trade on Friday at $51.46 a barrel, as per official data.

The bi-annual Petrotech conference, which opened here on Monday, will last until Wednesday. It will see participation of 6,000 delegates from 68 countries, as well as 20 ministerial delegations.