The government is on track to meet the target of cutting India's oil import dependence by 10 per cent by 2020, Petroleum Minnister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the 'Urja Sangam' conference in March 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that India needs to bring down its oil import dependence from 77 per cent in 2013-14, to 67 per cent by 2022, when India will celebrate its 75th year of independence.
Further, the dependence can be cut to half by 2030, he had said.
But with consumption growing at a brisk pace and domestic output remaining stagnant, India's oil import dependence has risen from 82.9 per cent in 2017-18, to 83.7 per cent in 2018-19, according to the oil ministry's Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC).
"We are very much on track. We will achieve the target," Pradhan told reporters on sidelines of an industry event here.
The government is focusing on increased use of bio-fuels and raising domestic crude oil and gas production to reduce imports.
Pradhan said blending of ethanol in petrol has risen to 6 per cent at present and the blending would rise further to 10 per cent by 2022.
Simultaneously, 5,000 compressed bio-gas plants are being set up that will convert agriculture and municipal waste into fuel, he said.
Use of alternate fuels will help bring down import dependence, he said.
Also, exploration rules have been changed multiple times during the last five years to get the elusive private and foreign investment.
Import dependence in 2015-16, was 80.6 per cent, which rose to 81.7 per cent in the following year, according to PPAC.
The country's oil consumption grew from 184.7 million tonnes in 2015-16 to 194.6 million tonnes in the following year and 206.2 million tonnes in the year thereafter. In 2018-19, demand grew by 2.6 per cent to 211.6 million tonnes.
In contrast, domestic output witnessed a decline. India's crude oil output fell from 36.9 million tonnes in 2015-16 to 36 million tonnes in 2016-17.
The trend of negative growth continued in the following years as output fell to 35.7 million tonnes in 2017-18 and to 34.2 million tonnes in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 2019, PPAC data showed.
According to PPAC, India spent $111.9 billion on oil imports in 2018-19, up from $87.8 billion in the previous fiscal year. The import bill was USD 64 billion in 2015-16.
For the current fiscal, it projected crude oil imports to rise to 233 million tonnes and foreign exchange spending on it to marginally increase to USD 112.7 billion.
State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp's (ONGC) output fell to 19.6 million tonnes in 2018-19 from 20.8 million tonnes in the previous year. ONGC's oil production was 20.9 million tonnes in 2016-17 and 21.1 million tonnes in 2015-16.
Output from fields operated by private firms has dropped from 11.2 million tonnes in 2015-16 to 9.6 million tonnes in 2018-19.