Rewriting the energy narrative
Expatiating on responsible oil pricing for affordable energy at the Petrotech 2019 conference held in Greater Noida yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed on universal access to a clean, affordable and equitable supply of energy. Energy remains pivotal in the contemporary world to the extent that wars could be fought over the same. The incessantly rising graph of development in the emerging economies necessitates mammoth energy requirement. Today, nations face the challenge of delivering affordable, assured, efficient and clean supply of energy to its citizens to match the expedited growth being registered by them. Optimal energy supply is possible only through transparent and flexible markets not just for oil but gas and other energy alternatives such as solar power. As the world embraces the transition from traditional fuel to renewable alternatives, it must be understood that such a transition requires humongous effort per se. Of course, this transition directly fuels the rapid growth of economies, which in turn, caters to the infrastructure as well as social development. In layman terms, sustainable energy supply paves way for aggregate development in all sectors of an economy as well as upliftment of the poor since a robust economy means additional efforts directed towards the deprived sections of the society. Right from aircraft to cars to kitchens, energy remains an essential necessity. While India, currently the sixth-largest economy, is the third-largest energy consumer in the world, calculations peg a tremendous growth trend citing a two-fold increase in energy demand by 2040. Being an attractive market for global players, India can catapult itself in the energy sector to complement its overall development while scripting a historic transition. Aligning itself by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), India with its diverse and ever-growing digital market can proceed towards renewable energy sources at a much faster pace than other nations. The solar power statistics recorded by India in recent years augur well for this. To validate India's dedicated approach towards energy, PM highlighted his government's effort of 100 per cent electrification which has been globally appreciated. India's World Bank Ease of Getting Electricity Ranking improved from 111 in 2014 to 29 in 2018 and that in itself stands testimonial to India's energy commitments. Distribution of LED bulbs under the UJALA scheme and more than 6.4 crore free LPG connections to poor have expanded India's energy paradigm, hugely benefitting the poor sections. Natural gas and biofuels are also in the picture with India enhancing its biofuel refineries and refurbishing Natural Gas regulations to increase domestic output of the two. Modi government has been proactively encouraging private participation in the oil & gas sector in a bid to make India a lucrative FDI destination. This is evident by keen interest displayed from UAE, Kuwait, etc., who are eager to invest in refining, petrochemical and oil storage projects in India to develop a strategic partnership with it. UAE's Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) and its partner Saudi Aramco have jointly taken a 50 per cent stake in the refinery-cum-petrochemical complex worth $44 million at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra along with underground oil storages at Mangalore and Padur in Karnataka. UAE's bid is to go beyond the customer-seller relationship and focus on a robust partnership in the oil and gas market. Having developed a 5.33 million tonne emergency storage which is enough to meet 9.5 days of oil needs, India has allowed foreign oil companies to store oil in case it falls in need of the same during an emergency. While Oil & Gas still hold the primary inventory in the energy sector, India's progressiveness in renewable energy alternatives creates a sphere of less dependence on traditional oil & gas. It has been part of several discourses that India's solar vision can tend to its energy demands, pushing it to become a solar leader in Asia. Relying on traditional fuel is a developing country's most obvious remark but India has the scope to rewrite this narrative. Being the fastest-growing large economy in the world brings a lot more than just a developing nation on the table which is why India must capitalise on its position in the global energy table to seize the growth trend and emerge not just a robust market for energy but a sustainable one at that. India under Modi has redefined its energy targets and expedited progression in those to be where it stands today. Neglecting the political aspect which plagues the country, India has shown tremendous improvement in the energy sector as PM elaborated in the Petrotech conference. With the advent of expanding FDI and strategic partnerships in the energy sector, India can go all the way to build a highly efficient energy market. Sticking by the SDGs will enable us to undertake eco-friendly approach and for a developing country to create an optimal mix of a traditional and renewable fuel to cater to its energy demands is indeed prodigious.