Govt strikes oil import deals with Kuwait

Written by Gireesh Chandra Prasad | Gireesh Chandra Prasad | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 19 2011, 07:02am hrs
Faced with uncertainty on crude oil imports from Iran and North Africa, India on Monday sought to step up its crude purchase from Kuwait and strike new supply agreements for crude and LNG from Indonesia and Brunei.

India's consumption of petroleum products is growing at a rate of 4.5% a year and the uncertainty over the import of crude and the declining domestic natural gas output has forced New Delhi to explore fresh suppliers of energy. India now imports 77% of its crude oil and 20% of its natural gas requirements.

Minister of state for petroleum, RPN Singh, has asked Kuwait's minister of oil Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabhah to step up crude supply significantly from the current 12 million metric tonne (mmt) a year, official sources told FE. India will have three more refineries by March next year at Bhatinda, Bina and Paradip, significantly boosting the country's refining capacity. Saudi Arabia is now India's largest crude supplier with 27 mmt, followed by Iran with 21 mmt and Iraq with 15 mmt.

Singh, who was in Kuwait to to participate in the fourth Asian energy ministerial roundtable, also explored if Kuwait will be able to participate in ONGC's petrochemical project OpaL at Dahej and OMPL at Mangalore.

India has also sought at least 5 mmt liquefied natural gas (LNG) a year from Indonesia from the 2012-13 fiscal. Now, Petronet LNG and Hazira LNG import gas from countries like Qatar, Malaysia, Russian Federation and Abu Dhabi. Indonesia is expected to put in place infrastructure to liquefy gas by the end of next year.

Singh also explored the possibility of striking crude and LNG purchase deals with Brunei, for which state-owned gas transportation company Gail India is willing to invest in Brunie's upstream sector and set up infrastructure.