New Delhi — Indian oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday described his Saudi counterpart’s advice to reduce oil stores to tackle high crude prices as “undiplomatic”.
“That was in a way (an) undiplomatic answer by some of our old friend. I politely disagree with that kind of approach.
“Certainly India has its own strategy, when and how to use our own storage, and we are conscious about our interests,” Pradhan said at Times Network’s India Economic Conclave in the Indian capital.
Pradhan has criticised OPEC and Saudi output cuts aimed at supporting prices and suggested India will have to look for energy alternatives to Gulf oil, its main source of crude.
With India hard hit by rising oil prices, Pradhan has repeatedly called on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, to ease supply curbs.
Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman in response has suggested India dip into strategic reserves filled with cheaper oil bought last year.
India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, has asked refiners to speed up diversification and cut reliance on Middle Eastern oil.
Indian refiners are planning to cut imports from Saudi Arabia by about a quarter, sources told Reuters this month.
“Today Iraq is the number one supplier of our requirement, we are taking a substantial amount from UAE also. UAE is a very reliable partner,” Pradhan said, adding Indian companies are free to buy oil from any country.
He said to cut import dependence India would look to meet incremental requirement through renewables.
On Thursday Pradhan said that African nations could play a central role in India’s effort to diversify its oil sources.
Separately, HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd, a joint venture between state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corp and steel tycoon L.N. Mittal, on Friday confirmed Reuters story that it has made India’s first purchase of Guyanese oil Liza for processing in April as it seeks to diversify crude sources.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; editing by Mark Potter, Jason Neely and Louise Heavens)