HOUSTON – Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday announced a new round of bidding on oil and gas projects to increase foreign investment in the Asian nation, which is seeking to reduce its dependence on imports by 10 percent by 2022.
“I must tell you there was never a better time to be in India. I encourage both existing and new players to come forward and avail the opportunity,” he said at a press conference at the IHS CERAWeek international energy conference being held this week in Houston, adding that there are numerous opportunities for investment with the changes that have been made in the country’s policies and the increase in short, medium and long-term demand.
The minister expressed optimism after the accord reached by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in November, adding that it opens the door to promising investment possibilities in his country’s energy industry.
The joint OPEC oil production cutback totaling 1.8 million barrels per day, or approximately 1.9 percent of demand expected for 2017, should serve to reduce the crude inventory levels, the average volume of which has exceeded 300 million barrels over the past five years, according to the oil cartel’s calculations.
According to a report published Monday by the International Energy Agency, oil demand will rise over the next five years thanks to developing countries and Asia, which will use about seven of every 10 extra barrels consumed worldwide and with India outpacing China by the end of the period.
Pradhan also commented that another of India’s energy strategies to reduce dependence on imported crude consists of increasing the use of liquefied natural gas as a vehicle fuel, and he noted that several public transportation methods in the Asian nation will be powered in the short term by LNG.
Without going into details, he said that New Delhi is building in eastern India an oil pipeline 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) long to provide gas to industry and help distribute gas to seven cities in the region.
CERAWeek is the main annual international meeting of top energy executives, innovators and officials, where participants discuss the sector’s prospects.
This year, crude prices are about 70 percent higher than they were when the oil ministers and CEOs of big energy firms met in Houston a year ago.