Dharmendra Pradhan, India's Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, calling for a healthy supply-demand balance in global oil markets following the uncertainly caused by the US pullout from the Iran nuclear deal, said oil producers should ensure that prices should stay at reasonable level.
India, where oil consumption is recording an annual 8 to 10 per cent growth, is very price-sensitive, he said. "However, we do not want oil prices to be very low or too high. We would like prices to stay at reasonable levels as well as a balanced supply-demand situation for the sake of a healthy global economy," the minister said.
However, the minister refused to explain what he meant by a reasonable oil price. "The current oil price increase is pinching, and we request oil producers must consider the interests of consumers," Pradhan said.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a road show on the oil and gas sector investment opportunities in India, the Indian minister said it is too early to figure out whether the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran by the Trump administration would cause disruptions to India's oil supplies, which relies on Gulf oil producers for almost 60 per cent of its oil imports.
Indian Consul-General in Dubai Vipul and senior Indian energy ministry officials were also present at the media interaction.
Pradhan, who is also the minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said during his talks with his UAE counterpart that both nations had agreed on skill development training to ensure the continued supply of high quality manpower from India.
He said India is confident of attracting more investments from the UAE and other oil producers into its booming petrochemical and refining sector.
The minister said the first consignment of 2 million barrels of crude oil from the UAE for India's strategic petroleum reserve in Mangalore, which has already set sail on Saturday, would help the country's energy security programme.
India is building around 39 million barrels of strategic crude oil storage facility. Under a recent agreement between the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd, the Abu Dhabi company will store around 5.86 million barrels of crude oil in India's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) facility at Mangalore at its own cost.
The agreement, signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the UAE in February this year, will provide a boost to India's energy security and help its deal with supply side disruptions, he said. "We can use the entire available crude oil stored by Adnoc in the SPR facility during an emergency situation," he said.