India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, expects a “responsible” approach from its suppliers as speculation mounts over whether OPEC and its allies will reach a deal to boost output at a meeting in Vienna this week.
India welcomes a proposal made by top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia to gradually ease the group’s supply curbs after prices rose to hit $80 a barrel last month, the South Asian nation’s oil minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, said in an interview at the Austrian capital. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is heading into a contentious meeting on Friday, with Iran promising to block any decision to increase output.
“High prices are pinching our economy, pinching our country,” Pradhan said. “I think our supplying friends have taken notice of that.” India believes that $55 to $60 a barrel is a reasonable price level for now, he said. Brent crude, the benchmark for more than half the world’s oil, was trading near $75 a barrel on Wednesday.
India and China are considering teaming up to buy U.S. supplies and counter OPEC’s dominance in the world’s biggest oil market. The two nations want to put pressure on the producer group to keep prices under control, an Indian government official said earlier this month.
Separately, the South Asian country also plans to seek exemptions to continue Iranian oil imports and make payments for purchases after America decided to reimpose sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Pradhan didn’t say if India plans cuts in Iranian purchases. The nation, which relies on imports for almost 80 per cent of its oil needs, is diversified in terms of supplies, with cargoes coming from the Middle East, Latin America and the U.S., he said.
“Due to our relationship with different stakeholders, we’re confident we don’t have to face any situation of scarcity,” Pradhan said.