New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) India, China, Japan and Korea have agreed to boost cooperation in the energy sector in view of their consumption of hydrocarbons, primarily in business to business segment, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said today.

Speaking at the concluding conference of International Energy Forum (IEF) he said, cooperation among oil-consuming nations is warranted in view of oil-producing countries charging Asian premium from India, China and others for supplying petroleum.

When asked about India joining hands with China to resolve the Asian premium issue he said: “We have assigned this responsibility to IOC Chairman Sanjiv Singh and from their side Chairman of China National Petroleum Corporation will work on the issue. More cooperation is expected.” “In some areas both of us (India and China) are working together. In some parts of Africa, CNPC and OVL (ONGC Videsh Ltd) are natural partners,” he said.

Li Fanrong, Deputy Administrator, National Energy Administration, China said the two nations can work together in energy sector as consumer as well as energy producer. The next IEF will be held in China.

About reported government direction to oil marketing companies for not hiking fuel prices, Pradhan said, there is no such direction.

Yesterday, Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer entered into an agreement to pick up 50 per cent stake in a planned USD 44-billion refinery-cum-petrochemical project in Maharashtra.

On Shiv Sena’s opposition to the deal, the minister said said the deal is in the favour of the people of Maharashtra as the investment will boost state’s economy, job creation and industrialisation.

Pradhan informed that more than 1,300 representatives participated in the IEF. As many as 53 representatives from different countries attended the forum and 38 ministers marked their presence.

On the occasion, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said India has deployed USD 8 billion on gas infrastructure across the country and share of natural gas in the energy mix will increase from 6.5 per cent now to 15 per cent by 2020.

She also said LPG penetration in the country has increased from 66 per cent in 2014 to 80 per cent in 2018, but India would be a responsible consumer despite the fact that its per capita consumption is about one tenth of the developing nations.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.