India and the US have signed an MoU to develop a strategic petroleum reserve and the two countries are in advanced stage of discussion to store crude oil in America to increase India's stockpile, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said on Friday.
Pradhan co-chaired with his American counterpart Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette a virtual US-India Strategic Energy Partnership Ministerial. "We have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to begin co-operation on strategic petroleum reserve. We are also in advanced phase of discussing of storing crude oil in US strategic reserve to increase India's strategic oil stockpile," Pradhan told reporters in a joint telephonic press conference.
Responding to a question, the minister said the memorandum on cooperation in the field of strategic petroleum reserve was based on a proposal from the US after the recent historic drop in oil prices during coronavirus pandemic. Following the historic drop in global crude oil process, the Indian government actively considered increasing its oil stockpile both inside the country and also overseas in countries like the US, he said.
Very soon the government will be coming out with a concrete road map and proposal on how it can be unfolded, Pradhan said, adding that this would also include that New Delhi can invest in an American storage facility for India's requirement. Co-operation in Strategic Petroleum Reserves Programme will further strengthen India's energy security and pave the way for greater US investments and collaborations in India's future SPR programmes, the minister said.
Brouillette said the MoU signed Friday will establish the process of moving forward. "What we would like to do is to begin the process of sharing with India, the establishment of a strategic reserve. And then accordingly, how does our SPR or Strategic Petroleum Reserve work here?" he said.
"It could ultimately look similar to what we've done with Australia, but there's no predetermined outcome as to where this conversation is going to grow into. We're excited to begin the conversation with India. We do think it's important for both of our nations said the US Energy Secretary in response to a question.
The State Department said that the MoU on Strategic Petroleum Reserve will ensure a consistent energy supply, protects national security, and promote regional and global stability. "The US-India Strategic Energy Partnership works to support sustainable energy development, in the 21st century and beyond. We collaborate on renewable energy, smart grids, and unconventional & clean energy sources research for the benefit of our people, now and in the future," South and Central Asia Bureau of the State Department said in a tweet.
Substantive wide-ranging conversation on the different pillars of India-US energy partnership took place during the India US Strategic Energy Partnership Ministerial, said India's Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu. Minister Pradhan said that during the meeting, he expressed his keenness to work closely with the US government to realise the "full potential of our Strategic Energy Partnership and also invited the US Government and companies to join our initiatives under the Atmanirbhar Mission to further strengthen the strategic energy partnership".
Asserting that India-US relationship has witnessed significant growth and expansion in the last few years, especially through the energy component, the minister said that the Strategic Energy Partnership, was now recognised as a key constituent of this bilateral engagement. "Our meeting today reflects both our Govt's commitment in further invigorating this partnership. It is, indeed, welcome that despite the challenges of the COVID-19 situation, we are committed to strengthen our energy linkages and work together on mutually-aligned priorities," he said.
India and the United States have made rapid strides in increasing bilateral hydrocarbon trade during the last three years, he said. "Our bilateral hydrocarbons trade has touched USD 9.2 billion during 2019-20, a 93 per cent increase when compared to 2017-18 figures," Pradhan said.
The Indian government is committed to transform India into a gas-based economy and universalise power supply to all households, he said. "Teams from both our countries are working to develop high-efficiency technologies with low to zero emissions through carbon capture, utilisation and storage," he said.
Established in April 2018 at the direction of President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recognising the strategic importance of energy to the US-India bilateral relationship, the SEP builds upon the two countries longstanding energy partnership and sets the stage for meaningful engagements through robust government-to-government cooperation and industry engagement.