India’s oil minister Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan has stated that their country and the UAE have explored ways to improve energy cooperation, despite the South Asian nation asking its refiners to reduce their dependence on Middle Eastern crude.
“(We) discussed about new areas of cooperation in the hydrocarbon sector and beyond, and agreed to remain committed despite the challenges presented by COVID pandemic,” Mr. Pradhan said on Twitter after a virtual meeting with Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).
The United Arab Emirates is a major oil supplier to India and a partner in a joint venture that plans to construct a 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) refinery and petrochemical complex on the country’s west coast.
As per the reports, the UAE was the fifth-largest oil supplier to India, which is the world’s third-largest oil importer and buyer. India imports more than 80 percent of its oil, with a large portion of it coming from the Middle East.
After the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its Allies, known as OPEC+, decided to extend most curbs into April, New Delhi has asked refiners to gradually reduce oil imports from the Middle East and diversify supplies.
According to the reports, India has been hit hard by rising oil prices, due to which minister Pradhan has repeatedly called on OPEC+ to ease supply curbs and has blamed Saudi Arabia’s voluntary cuts for contributing to a spike in global oil prices.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, has responded to Mr. Pradhan’s request, by suggesting that India tap into strategic reserves of cheaper oil purchased last year.
UAE-based ADNOC is the only foreign firm to which India has leased a part of its strategic petroleum reserves. India does not allow oil exports, but ADNOC has been granted permission to export a portion of its oil to the Mangalore SPR in Southern India.