India today asked the world’s largest oil producer Saudi Arabia for a “reasonable” oil pricing that balances the interest of producer and consuming nations. After talks with visiting Saudi oil minister Khalid Al-Falih, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said India is a price sensitive market and so “we must get reasonable price for crude oil and LPG” imported from the OPEC nation. Saudi Arabia is India’s second biggest source of crude oil after Iraq. This fiscal it will import 36.5 million tonnes of crude oil from Saudi Arabia. Also 25 per cent of LPG also comes from the Gulf nation.
“What we discussed was that price of crude oil is such that it does not result in a loss to producers and at the same time protects consuming nation’s interest,” he said. “They (Saudi Arabia) was in agreement on the issue.” Some mechanism will need to be deviced to address this, he said. India is world’s third-largest oil importer, which relies on foreign countries to meet 80 per cent of its needs. About 85 per cent of its total oil imports and 95 per cent of gas imports come from OPEC nations.
Pradhan said India has been asking the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) to stop charging the premium from its Asian buyers. He reiterated New Delhi’s decade-old demand and said oil producers should work towards “responsible price”, which would allow major oil-consuming countries to provide energy to the common people at affordable rates.
Pradhan’s predecessors, particularly Mani Shankar Aiyar, had in the past raised the issue of so-called charging premium from Asian buyers, but the cartel has refused to act on the issue.