NEW DELHI, Oct 19 (Reuters) - India is forming a group that
brings together state-run and private refiners to seek better
crude import deals, oil secretary Tarun Kapoor said on Tuesday,
as the country grapples with soaring oil prices.
The world's third largest oil importer and consumer, India
depends on imports for about 85% of its crude and buys most of
it from Middle East producers.
Initially the group of refiners will meet once in a
fortnight and exchange ideas on crude purchases.
"The companies can form joint strategies and they can even go
for joint negotiations wherever possible," Kapoor, the top
bureaucrat in the petroleum ministry, told Reuters.
Indian state refiners already jointly negotiate some crude
To date the one effort at a joint negotiation bringing
together not only state-run but private refiners resulted in a
deal that secured supply of Iranian oil at a deep discount https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-iran-oil-idUSKCN1G10T4.
With local gasoline and gasoil prices rising to a record
high amid India's worst power crisis in years, the nation wants
to redouble its efforts to buy wisely.
India's trade deficit in September surged to a record $22.6
billion, its highest in at least 14 years, driven by expensive
Kapoor said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting
Countries and its allies, together known as OPEC+, should raise
production to bring down global oil prices.
"OPEC+ should realise that this is not the right approach,
they must step up production. If the demand is going up and you
are not increasing production, you are trying to create a gap,"
"Due to this, prices are going up and thats not fair".
OPEC+ producers recently agreed to stick to a plan to
increase November output by 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) as it
looks to phase out output curbs of 5.8 million bpd over time.
Kapoor said rising oil prices would prompt oil consumers to
"seriously start thinking of shifting to other forms or curtail
their demand for OPEC oil somehow".
"These kind of prices are not sustainable."
India is already reducing the share of OPEC oil in its crude
mix as refiners, that have invested billions of dollars in
refinery upgrades, are tapping cheaper oil.
High oil prices are spurring investment in upstream
activities, that could lead to higher production from regions
other than the Gulf, Kapoor noted.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; editing by Jason Neely)