India, the world’s third-largest energy consumer, wants the new US administration to allow resumption of oil supplies from Iran and Venezuela so as to give the country more options to meet its requirements, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Wednesday. ”As a buyer, I would like to have more buying places. I should have more destinations to go for purchasing (of oil),” Pradhan said in response to a question about his expectations for the resumption of oil imports from Iran and Venezuela under a Joseph Biden presidency.
Iran was India’s second-biggest supplier of crude oil after Saudi Arabia till 2010-11, but Western sanctions over its suspected nuclear programme led to reduced volumes. India stopped importing crude oil from Iran following the re-imposition of economic sanctions in May 2019, by the US.
Venezuela was India’s fourth-biggest oil supplier but import dwindled after Washington imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA in January 2019, to put pressure on socialist President Nicolas Maduro. At a webinar on ’The Road To Atmanirbhar Bharat’ organised by Swarajya Magazine, Pradhan was asked if as a major consuming nation, India would like the Biden administration to relax sanctions on Iran and Venezuela.
On Indo-US relations, he said nothing will change with the change of guard in the US for India. ”There is a strong bonding between the two nations. Both depend on each other. Our relations are sound, our relations are grounded.” ”Nothing will change. Elections are a regular practice in America,” he said adding India offers the US a huge market. The relations between the two nations will continue to deepen irrespective of the country being governed by Democrats or Republicans, he said.
”I don’t see any dampening in the relationship (with Biden coming). It is growing every day,” he said. India is 85 percent dependent on imports to meet its oil needs. Two-third of its imports come from the Middle-East with Iraq and Saudi Arabia being the largest suppliers.
Pradhan said India is all for reasonable and responsive pricing of crude. ”Gone are days of monopoly. Oil producers have to recognise the aspirations of consumers. It is a consumer-driven market today. India needs a reasonable and responsible price,” he said.
India consumed just 6 percent of the world’s primary energy and it's per capita consumption is one-third of the global average, he said adding India will drive the growth in global energy demand. India’s energy consumption is projected to grow at 3 percent per annum up to 2040, faster than all major economies of the world. Also, the country’s share of total global primary energy demand is set to roughly double to about 11 percent by 2040, driven by strong economic development, he said.
The Minister said that India is in the midst of a major transformative shift that aims to enhance the availability and affordability of clean fossil fuels and also reduce the carbon footprint through a healthy mix of all commercially-viable energy sources. ”Our government is also committed to reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33 to 35 per cent from 2005 levels,” he said.
Talking about efforts to shift towards a gas-based economy, Pradhan said 14,700 km of gas pipelines are being added to over 16,800-km network presently. Also, gas import terminal capacity is being increased and city gas networks rolled out in 407 districts, he said.
”To ensure energy security for our economic growth, we are expanding our refining capacity from the current 250 million tonnes per annum to 450 million tonnes,” he said without giving a time frame.
First Published: IST