New Delhi: As part of India’s energy diplomacy, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan will be visiting Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar from 7-12 September.
This comes in the backdrop of India's, the world’s third-largest oil importer, attempts to further bolster its robust ties with West Asian energy producers, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE.
“Hon’ble Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, accompanied by an official and business delegation, will be visiting Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar from 7-12 September 2019 to engage with his counterparts in oil & gas as well as steel sectors in three countries and also participate in the 8th Asian Ministerial Energy Roundtable (AMER) at Abu Dhabi on 10 September, where India is the co-Host along with UAE," the Indian government said in a statement.
India has been raising the issue of energy security with Saudi Arabia and other energy producers. Saudi Arabia is a crucial source of energy for India and the second largest supplier of crude and cooking gas to India. Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (Adnoc), the state-run oil firm of UAE, is the world’s 12th largest producer and UAE is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec). Saudi Arabia is also a prominent member of Opec that accounts for about 83% of India’s total crude oil imports and 40% of global production.
“In Saudi Arabia, Hon’ble Minister will have meetings with his counterpart, the Minister of Energy, H.E. Khalid Al-Falih and the senior management of Aramco, the National Oil Company of Saudi Arabia. During his meetings, Hon’ble Minister will seek to further enhance cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the entire value chain of hydrocarbon sector. Saudi Arabia has traditionally been a top supplier of crude oil to India," the statement added.
The world’s biggest oil producer, Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Saudi Aramco, and Adnoc have partnered to jointly develop the massive refinery and petrochemicals complexes in Maharashtra. ADNOC is also the only one to partner with India on its crude oil reserve programme till date, can be used during an emergency.
“On the sidelines of 8th AMER, Hon’ble Minister will also meet his counterparts from Asian region and Heads of international energy organizations, who are attending the Asian Ministerial Energy Roundtable and the World Energy Congress," the statement added.
Indian strategic planners have been worried over short-term supply disruptions, given that the country’s energy needs are primarily met through imports. Any spike in international crude oil prices will affect India against the backdrop of factors such as the Opec and Russia extending supply cuts. Also, the US administration has imposed sanctions on state-owned oil company Petrуleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), and President Donald Trump has pulled the US out of a historic 2015 accord with energy-rich Iran that was signed to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme in return for ending sanctions.
While assuming office for the second time, Petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan had said that energy has emerged as a positive tool for diplomacy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the voice for the consumers, the world over.
After taking charge of the petroleum and natural gas ministry, Pradhan said the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had undertaken various energy initiatives to tilt the trade balance in India’s favour.
“Energy has become an international diplomacy handle, and many countries look towards India. Shri Narendra Modi is seen as a spokesperson for the world’s consumers, and this has been acknowledged by the world," he said, adding that increasing domestic oil and gas production will be the government’s priority.
In his previous stint, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called for a global consensus on “responsible pricing", which balances the interests of the producers and the consumers.