Moily slams Modi govt for cold-shouldering UPA initiate on strategic oil reserves

New Delhi, Sep 19 (PTI) Former oil minister M Veerappa Moily on Thursday slammed Modi government for cold-shouldering Congress-led UPA regime's steps such as building strategic oil storages for the energy security of the country, saying the present government is trigger happy in giving statements. With petrol and diesel prices rising for the third consecutive day on Thursday as a fallout of volatility in international oil markets caused by devastating attacks on Saudi facilities, Moily in a statement said the UPA had envisaged such price shocks and build strategic oil storages at three places and two more were in pipeline. "The present government has been going on snail pace in taking measures during the last six years to utilise these facilities (when faced with price volatility)," he said. "This is criminal neglect on the part of the oil ministry." He said the Congress-led UPA had built underground oil storages at Vizag in Andhra Pradesh and Padur and Mangalore in Karnataka as insurance against any contingencies and emergencies. "The caverns were commissioned during my tenure as Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas," he said adding India's strategic petroleum reserves stand at 55 per cent of the available underground storage capacity of 5.33 million tonnes. The UPA-2 had also planned to have two more caverns - one in Odisha and another at Padur in Udupi in Karnataka. "All preliminary works have been done. The present NDA government has again not taken a single step to construct the new caverns," he said. The UPA-2 had a master plan in place to build capacities of refineries both in the private and public sectors as well as tap unconventional resources such as shale and CBM besides conventional sources to make the country self-sufficient in production and refining capability by 2030, he said. "The steps taken by UPA-1 and 2 have been cold-shouldered by the present NDA regime. The NDA government seems to be quite trigger happy by giving statements after statements without taking any concrete steps to make India self-sufficient in oil reserves and to take on such emergencies and contingencies like the present crisis in Saudi Arabia," he added. Petrol price was on Thursday was hiked by 29 paisa per litre to Rs 72.71 and diesel by 19 paisa to Rs 66.01 a litre in the National Capital. The hike came on back of 39 paisa per litre increase in petrol and diesel prices effected in last two days. The increase on Thursday is the biggest single-day hike since the July 5 Budget of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman that raised rates by almost Rs 2.50 a litre due to an increase in excise duty on the fuels. Following the drone strikes on Saturday, international oil prices rallied nearly 20 per cent on Monday in intraday trading -- the biggest jump in almost 30 years -- as the attacks halved Saudi Arabia's output. Rates have in subsequent two days retreated, conceding about half of the gains. India imports 83 per cent of its oil needs, with Saudi Arabia supplying a fifth of these. Saudi Arabia is its second-biggest supplier after Iraq. It sold 40.33 million tonnes of crude to India in 2018-19 fiscal, when the country had imported 207.3 million tonnes of oil. PTI ANZ MR