Global energy producers must pursue more ‘responsible pricing’ policies and India needs ‘affordable and reliable’ energy sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday, arguing that world fuel prices have been on a ‘roller coaster’ for far too long.
India has been drawing investments across the oil and gas value chain and other sectors even during these challenging times, and the country is a bright spot in an otherwise difficult year for the sector, the PM said at the inaugural session of the India Energy Forum, ahead of a two-hour closed-door meeting with CEOs of top global energy firms.
“This year has been challenging for the energy sector — demand fell by almost one third, there has been price instability, investment decisions have been impacted and leading global bodies project contraction in global energy demand over the next few years also. But these agencies project India to emerge as a leading energy consumer, which is set to double its energy consumption over the long term,” he said.
“During these challenging times, we have witnessed investments through the oil and gas value chain and are seeing similar signs in other sectors too,” Mr. Modi said, stressing that a self-reliant India, with energy security at its core, ‘will also be a force multiplier for the global economy’.
Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that after the initial effects of the pandemic and the national lockdown, India is now on the road to full recovery with petroleum products consumption returning to levels witnessed before the COVID-19 scourge.
“For too long, the world has seen fuel prices on a roller coaster. We need to move towards responsible pricing and work towards transparent and flexible markets for both oil and gas,” Mr. Modi said at the forum where top officials and Ministers from OPEC nations as well as India’s large energy suppliers such as the United States and Saudi Arabia were present.
“India believes that access to energy must be affordable and reliable. That is when social economic transformation can take place. We view the energy sector [as one] that empowers people and improves ease of living,” he said, highlighting the government’s ambition to ‘ensure energy justice’.
India will stick to its global commitments towards climate change, while tapping more energy to improve the lives of Indians with a smaller carbon footprint, he asserted.
“India’s energy sector will be growth-centric, industry friendly and environment-conscious… India will always work keeping in mind the global good,” the PM said, adding that it has one of the lowest carbon emissions in the industrialised world.
Espousing oil and gas sector reforms in recent times — such as the exploration and licencing policy unveiled in 2019 and the natural gas pricing changes announced earlier this month — as ‘pathbreaking’, the PM said: “India’s reform journey has been on high speed for the last six years… There will be continuity of these robust energy policies that have been in place… India’s energy will energise the world.”
“To increase domestic production of natural gas and to bring uniformity in market price, we have announced natural gas marketing reforms earlier this month. They will give greater marketing freedom in the sale of natural gas,” he said, stressing that increasing domestic gas production has been a key priority as the government is keen to shift to a gas-based economy and achieve its ‘One Nation, One Gas Grid’ goal.
“A ray of sun brightens the journey of human progress. Like the seven horses driving the chariot of the Sun God, India’s energy map will now have seven key drivers of change,” the PM said. He listed the seven drivers — accelerating efforts towards a gas-based economy; cleaner use of fossil fuels, particularly petroleum and coal; greater reliance on domestic sources to drive biofuel; achieving the renewable energy target of 450 GW by 2030; increasing the contribution of electricity to decarbonise mobility; moving into emerging fuels, including hydrogen; and digital innovation across all energy systems.
The 2019 exploration and licencing policy has shifted the focus from revenue to production maximisation and is enshrined in greater transparency and streamlined procedures, Mr. Modi said, expressing plans to raise India’s refining capacity from about 250 million metric tonnes a year to 400 million metric tonnes by 2025.