Prime Minister Narendra Modi sees scope for further reforms in the country's oil and gas sector and has received "focused suggestions" from some of the world's leading energy companies on the way forward, according to an official statement released on Monday. The Modi government's strategy is to use India's market size, as the world's thirdbiggest oil consumer, to strike better deals for oil imports and attract investment into the country's exploration and refining sectors.
Top executives from global oil and gas giants including Rosneft, BP, ExxonMobil, Saudi Aramco, Royal Dutch Shell, Vedanta, Reliance Industries and leading service providers such as Schlumberger and Halliburton met the Prime Minister on Monday as the industry gathered in New Delhi for the three-day India Energy Forum.
"Participants appreciated the pace and drive with which Prime Minister Modi has brought about reform in the energy sector," The Prime Minister's office said in a statement after the meeting. "Subjects such as the need for a unified energy policy, contract frameworks and arrangements, requirement of seismic data sets, encouragement for biofuels, improving gas supply, setting up of a gas hub and regulatory issues came up for discussion," the statement added.
The PM pointed out that many suggestions at the last meeting in 2016 have helped guide Indian policy-making and he appreciated the "focused suggestions" made this year and that "scope for reform in many areas still exists." Modi was quoted as saying he looked forward to "various opportunities" for cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia, the second biggest oil exporter to the country behind Iraq.
State-run Saudi Aramco, which on Sunday launched a new office near Delhi, is in talks with several Indian refiners for a possible joint venture by next year. Its Chief Executive Amin Nasser told the conference after the Modi meeting that India's oil demand would double by 2040 to about 10 million barrels per day, making it the world's largest market for the fuel and a priority for the company.
In the meeting, Modi thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin and Rosneft for their support to India's energy sector. The two leaders were instrumental in helping to seal Rosneft's $12.9 billion acquisition of the debt-ridden Essar Oil, strengthening ties between the world's largest oil producer and the fastest-growing consumer. BP and Reliance have said they would jointly invest $6 billion to boost India's gas output. A BP executive said on Monday that the company was "excited about gas, upstream and digital innovation in India".
The Prime Minister said that the status of the energy sector in India is highly uneven. He welcomed the suggestion made for a comprehensive energy policy. He flagged the potential of biomass energy and also invited participation and joint ventures in coal gasification. Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan informed the oil companies that liberalised India offers a USD 300 billion investment opportunity in the next 10 years in the oil and gas sector.
"We want investors, both domestic and global, who can bring in the best technology and capital,'' he said. The government is devising policies to more than double the share of gas in the energy basket to 15 per cent. "We are planning to set up a gas trading exchange and making sure there is open access to the gas grid.
Global experience in this area would be useful,'' he stated. According to Pradhan, in the last 40 months, the government has taken several policy initiatives in the energy sector in line with the prime minister's vision of energy access, efficiency, sustainability and security. The CMDs of Indian companies ONGC, Oil India, Indian Oil, GAIL, Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum and GAIL also attended the meeting.