India to intensify clean energy push as oil prices stay at $95 a barrel

Exclusive: Asia's third-largest economy will 'navigate' its way through current environment, Indian minister says

India's Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri said his country was the world's leading success story in renewables. Reuters
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India will “navigate” its way through the current oil price environment by further diversifying its energy sources, its Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri has said.

An “unintended consequence” of $95 per barrel of oil is a hastening of the transition to cleaner energy, Mr Puri told The National on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference.

As the world’s third-largest crude oil importer, India aims to produce 500 gigawatts of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030 to meet half of its energy demand through renewables, he added.

“We are the leading success story [in renewables] in the world. We brought the price of solar down from 25 cents to three cents … and will be the leading manufacturer of green hydrogen because we have low-cost power,” Mr Puri said.

“We have got Indian companies supplying green ammonia to German companies. We have got Indian companies supplying to the new electricity turbines in Singapore.”

Asia's third-largest economy boosted its imports of discounted Russian crude after the war in Ukraine propelled oil prices to $140 a barrel.

India's oil imports from the Middle East fell to a 19-month low in September while Russian imports rebounded, Reuters reported earlier, citing data from trade and shipping sources.

Iraq remained the top supplier while Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as the second-biggest after a gap of a month.

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It is “entirely possible” that India will continue importing Russian crude as long as the prices are favourable, said Mr Puri.

“India will take whatever decisions it has to; we have a duty only to our consumers,” he said.

Energy markets are expected to enter another phase of uncertainty when the EU ban on Russian crude comes into effect on December 5. A ban on Russian oil products will commence on February 5.

“[We will] let the EU work that out … all sovereign governments take whatever decisions they have to,” Mr Puri said.

Asked about the effect of Europe’s energy crisis on India’s economy, Mr Puri said: “There's an energy crisis, a food crisis [and] a fertiliser crisis … somewhere all these are mixed up.”

The tight crude supply in the market is partly due to an Opec+ decision to reduce its collective output by 2 million barrels per day.

Brent, the benchmark under which two thirds of the world's crude is traded, gained about $14 after the move.

Saudi and UAE energy ministers have previously indicated that supply could be raised to meet market requirements.

“The issue is, if they don’t increase [the supply], demand will go down on its own because of high prices,” Mr Puri said.

The group of oil-producing countries will hold its next meeting on December 4.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is “open to all sources of supply”, to meet its oil demand, Musadik Malik, the country's Minister of State for Petroleum, told The National at Adipec on Monday.

“We are taking stock of everything and then we would do what is in our national interest. From wherever we get affordable energy, we would get that energy but without violating any global regime and in a transparent manner,” Mr Malik said, when he was asked if Pakistan plans to import Russian oil.

Pakistan imports oil and liquefied natural gas from Gulf countries, with Qatar being its biggest LNG supplier.

The country is also focusing on renewable energy projects, with 10,000 megawatts of solar projects planned in a year's time, he said.

“We are also considering a hybrid programme. In Pakistan, winds blow in the evening and the sun comes out in the morning, so it is a very good combination,” Mr Malik said.

“We are experimenting in piloting the hybrid programme along the wind corridor where we have solar and wind mixed.”

Pakistan will put out tenders, with a “first round of bidding” planned within a month, he said.

There are also 7,000 megawatts to 8,000 megawatts of hydro projects “ongoing” in Pakistan, Mr Malik said.

Countries around the globe are boosting investment in renewable projects as energy transition gather pace.

Global investment in the renewables sector climbed 11 per cent to $226 billion in the first half of 2022 amid higher energy prices, according to a report by research company BloombergNEF.

Updated: November 02, 2022, 5:08 AM
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