India will cope with OPEC oil production cuts: Minister Puri in Washington

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From left, Indian Ambassador to US, Taranjit Sandhu, and India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Hardeep Puri at the press conference on October 7, 2022, in the Embassy of India, Washington DC. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Washington DC: Against the backdrop of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ announcement on October 5, 2022, that it will slash two million barrels of oil production a day, India’s Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Hardeep Puri expressed optimism that the turbulence in energy markets would not impede India’s progress with the United States in transitioning to sustainable energy.

Puri’s statement comes after his meeting with the U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, with whom he discussed strengthening the bilateral clean energy partnership to strengthen energy security.

“Amidst volatility in global energy markets, continuing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasingly frequent climate-related challenges, the United States and India re-iterated their commitment to accelerating a just and sustainable energy transition,” the US-India Strategic Clean Energy Partnership Ministerial Joint Statement said.

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“As climate and clean energy leaders, the United States and India share a common vision to deploy clean energy at scale during this critical decade to reduce emissions and achieve climate change mitigation goals, taking into account different national circumstances,” it added, noting the two countries would continue proactively addressing the multiple crises that the world faces.

The India-US joint meeting discussed five technical pillars of cooperation; power and energy efficiency, renewable energy, responsible oil and gas, sustainable growth, and emerging fuels and technologies.

Responding to a question about the impact of OPEC’s announcement on India, Puri said OPEC’s decision to cut two million barrels a day came as a surprise at a time when the market was expecting a reduction of one million barrels.

But, he affirmed, “We are very confident of being able to navigate through the situation.”

While conceding that price rises do lead concern over energy security, and affordability, Puri said, “Ensuring both security and affordability on energy is a prime task of any government.”

He pointed out that during the pandemic, India reduced excise on gasoline and diesel on two occasions, and effectively managed the situation during the heavy rains in the country’s northeast regions.

In India, according to Puri, 60 million people fill gasoline daily with consumption of 5 million barrels a day – which is likely to increase in the coming decade. “I see this 5 million-barrels-a- day consumption going up to six, six-and-half, seven, and even rising. Because our per capita compared to global figures reached global averages and then increased because the economy is growing at 7 per cent. And energy is a critical driver of that economic growth.”

Regarding India’s energy buys from Russia, Puri asserted, “ Let me make it very clear – India will buy oil from wherever it has to for the simple reason that this kind of a discussion cannot be taken to the consuming population of India.”

To a question from News India Times about India’s role in improving the global oil production during its G20 Presidency, Puri responded, “One of the things we told American friends was that we will utilize our G20 presidency to try and establish an International Biofuels Alliance.”

“Now India is amongst the top five producers of ethanol in the world. I think we feel confident that now what the Brazilians used to suggest to us in 2006, we can actually implement and therefore we will utilize our G20 Presidency to give biofuels a big push,” he noted.

In DC, Puri also met with the Deputy Secretary of Treasury, Presidential Envoy for Energy and Infrastructure, and senior representatives of the White House, National Security Council, Departments of State and Energy, World Bank, United Nations, United States Agency for International Development, United States Trade and Development Agency among others.

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