Millennium Post

India presses OPEC for responsible oil pricing

New Delhi: India, the world's third-biggest oil consumer, Wednesday pressed OPEC to move to responsible pricing of oil and gas saying the recent spike in rates are far detached from market fundamentals and are hurting importing nations.

A combination of crude oil climbing to four-year high and rupee dipping to its lowest level against US dollar has sent retail petrol, diesel and cooking gas (LPG) rates to record high. The relentless price rise has wiped away tax cuts done by the government to give relief to consumers.

At the annual institutional dialogue between the world's third-largest oil importer and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan gave the cartel, which accounts for 45 per cent of the world output, a perspective of an importing country.

"(I) met OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo at the 3rd India-OPEC Energy Dialogue (and) raised the issue of surging crude prices which is hurting oil importing countries like India. I sought responsible pricing, which is in the best interests of both producers and consumers," Pradhan said.

India imports over 83 per cent of its crude oil needs. Of the crude oil imported, about 85 per cent of comes from OPEC nations. Also, 80 per cent of gas imports come from those countries.

India believes OPEC has a major role in shaping oil prices and availability and the current high oil prices dent the economic development of many countries and threaten already fragile world economic growth.

Pradhan said he also expressed concerns on global trade practices limiting the affordability of energy.

Barkindo, he said, reaffirmed India as an extremely important partner for OPEC and called for further strengthening India-OPEC relationship.

"He said OPEC will help to develop it as a model for developing countries," Pradhan said.

The OPEC secretary general said Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter and the organisation's kingpin, has assured that it is "committed, capable and willing" to ensure there will be no shortage in the oil market.

The government had on October 5 cut excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 1.50 per litre and asked oil PSUs to subsdise the two fuel by another Re 1. The twin move resulted in retail rates being cut by Rs 2.50 per litre.

However, the relentless price hike has wiped away all cut benefits on diesel and most on petrol.

While there was no change in prices on Wednesday, petrol in Delhi costs Rs 82.83 per litre and diesel is priced at Rs 75.69.

Since the duty cut, diesel prices have risen by Rs 2.74 per litre, more than wiping away the excise duty cut and oil firm subsidy. Petrol price has during the period risen by Rs 1.33 per litre.

Before the October 5 price cut, petrol in Delhi had hit an all-time high of Rs 84 per litre and diesel was at record Rs 75.45. This came down to Rs 81.50 per litre for petrol and Rs 72.95 in case of diesel on October 4.

In Mumbai, petrol on Tuesday was priced at Rs 88.29 per litre, down from a peak of Rs 91.34 hit on October 4. A litre of diesel in the city costs Rs 79.35, a shade lower than Rs 80.10 record high hit on

October 4.

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