Prices soaring, India weighs Russian offer of discounted crude

Tribune News Service

Mukesh Ranjan

New Delhi, March 14

Amid rising crude prices in the international market, minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri today informed the Rajya Sabha that the government was exploring all options available across the globe to buy cheaper fuel.

Ripple effect of war

  • $139 per barrel crude price when war began
  • $109-110 per barrel current crude price
  • India is considering Russian offer of crude at discounted price, besides resuming imports from Venezuela, Iran
  • Prices of petro products went up by 50 to 58% in the US, Canada, France, Germany, UK, Spain
  • In India, the increase has been around 5% only

The minister was responding to a supplementary query during Question Hour in the House about Russia offering discount on crude oil. In a situation characterised by the pandemic over the past two years and the military action between Russia and Ukraine, “the government will explore all options which are available”, he said.

The minister said he has had conversations at appropriate levels of the Russian Federation and these were currently underway. “It is a dynamic situation characterised by military warfare, I will be happy to share details when finalised,” he said.

Puri said the government was also pinning hope on resumption of crude imports from Venezuela and Iran, as supplies from the two countries were disrupted due sanctions, besides higher production by the OPEC-plus nations to help cool international oil prices. Oil prices in the international market have hit record high amid Russia-Ukraine military engagement. He said nine states, including Maharashtra and Kerala, had not reduced VAT on petrol and diesel. Fuel prices had gone up by over 50 per cent in many countries, but these remained stable and rose by only 5 per cent in India during the pandemic, he added.

“We brought down the central excise, but nine states have still not brought down taxes. We are willing to take such steps that are necessary to control the price,” he said.

Sharing comparative price data from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, UK, Spain and India, Puri said, “All these countries have seen prices of petrol go up by 50 to 58 per cent, but in India it has gone up by only 5 per cent. We should be rejoicing in that. Instead we are hearing why prices have gone up.”

“All elected representatives should be rejoicing at the fact that the prices of petrol paid by the consumer have remained steady from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021,” the minister said.

Fresh talks as Russia keeps up attacks

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators held fresh round of talks on Monday as Russia bombarded Kyiv and other Ukraine cities with a punishing assault that the Red Cross termed “nothing short of a nightmare” for the country’s civilians. AP

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