New Delhi: Amid rising concerns over the unabated fuel price hike, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday met the top executives of global and Indian oil and gas companies and brainstormed on the emerging energy scenario.
PM Modi also made a strong pitch for a partnership between oil producers and consumers to help stabilise the global economy. He appealed to the oil producing countries to channel their investible surplus to pursue commercial exploitation in the oil sector in developing countries, a statement from his office said.
The Prime Minister also urged global oil suppliers to review payment terms in order to give relief to the weakening rupee. “He requested for a review of the payment terms so as to provide temporary relief to the local currency,” a government statement said.
India, which imports more than 80 per cent of its oil, has been under immense pressure in wake of the spiralling fuel prices and weakening rupee against the US Dollar.
During the third annual meeting, which was also attended by Union minister Arun Jaitley and Dharmendra Pradesh and Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar, PM Modi highlighted that the oil consuming countries, due to rising crude prices, face several other economic challenges including serious resource crunch.
The prime minister further urged that cooperation of oil producing countries would be “very critical to bridge this gap”, reported news agency ANI.
PM Modi also noted that the oil market is “producer driven” and that both the quantity and prices are determined by the oil producing countries.
Though there is enough production, the unique features of marketing in the oil sector have pushed up the oil prices, the PM noted while interacting with the global leaders of the energy sector.
The gathering included ministers from Saudi Arabia and UAE, and CEOs and experts from organisations including Saudi ARAMCO, ADNOC, BP, Rosneft, IHS Markit, Pioneer Natural Resources Company, Emerson Electric Company, Tellurian, Mubadala Investment Company, Schlumberger Ltd., Wood Mackenzie, World Bank, International Energy Agency (IEA), NIPFP, Brookings India and various Indian companies involved in both upstream and downstream operations.
During the meeting, global CEOs and experts appreciated the steps taken by government over last four years, for ease of doing business and specifically in energy sector in India.
Experts made special mention of India’s competitive ranking from upstream investment point of view which has gone up from 56 to 44.
Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid A Al-Falih said, “Under PM Modi’s stewardship, doing business in India has become significantly easier. FDI has grown and inflation is under control. In other words, PM Modi is making good of his promise of ‘Acche Din’”.
The PM also spoke of higher acreage under exploration and sought cooperation of the developed countries, both in terms of technology and extension, of the coverage. He also sought the role of private participation in the distribution of gas sector.
On technology, he appealed for assistance in areas where high pressure and high temperature technology applications are relevant to commercial exploitation of natural gas.
He also requested for review of payment terms so as to provide temporary relief to the local currency, the statement said.
Modi also spoke about the various policy initiatives and developmental measures undertaken by government in the sector. He highlighted the liberalisation in gas pricing and marketing and about the ongoing commercial exploitation, and made a special mention of extension of production sharing contracts.
Addressing the India Energy Forum at the national capital, Pradhan said, “Energy today is a global industry and oil is truly a global commodity. Hence our engagements with global energy community has to be continuous to address the challenges of transition in energy for a secured energy future.”
Despite the government’s move earlier this month to reduce VAT on fuel prices by Rs 2.5 and several BJP-ruled states announcing a similar rate cut on petrol and diesel prices, there has not been much relief for the common as the petrol reached Rs 82.72 per litre in Delhi and Rs 88.18 in Mumbai on Monday.
With the opposition cornering the government over spiralling fuel prices, the issue has become a major concern for the Narendra Modi government at the Centre as it comes ahead of the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram and also the Lok Sabha elections due next year.
Modi’s first meeting was on January 5, 2016 where suggestions for reforming natural gas prices were made. More than a year later, the government allowed higher natural gas price for yet-to-be-produced fields in difficult areas like deep sea.
In the last edition in October 2017, suggestions were made for giving out equity to foreign and private companies in producing oil and gas fields of state-owned ONGC and OIL. But the plan could not go through in view of strong opposition from Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC).