New Delhi: Union Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, on Thursday, March 24, defended the government over the hike in fuel prices in the country, stating that it was due to an increase in prices in the international market.
The prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG) have increased by 37 per cent from April 2021 to February 2022, he said in Parliament. He also said besides the LPG, prices have increased 37 per cent in the last six months.
This comes at a time when India is buying more volumes of crude oil from Russia, but it is still less than 1 per cent of the total oil imports.
Further, he said India bought 419,000 tonnes of crude oil from Russia during the first 10 months of the current fiscal year that began in April 2020, which was 0.2 per cent of the total import of 175.9 million tonnes.
In 2020-21, India imported 633,000 tonnes of 0.3%, while in 2019-20, the purchases were 2.93 million tonnes or 1.3% of total imports, he said.
The statement comes against the backdrop of Indian firms picking up distressed Russian cargoes being offered at deep discounts. While Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has bought 3 million barrels through a trader, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) has picked up 2 million barrels.
"We require a total of 5 million barrels per day. That is our (crude oil) consumption. 60 per cent of it comes from the Gulf," he said.
Stating that oil imports from Russia are "minuscule", he said, "Even now, the total amount contracted will be less than three days' supply from Russia to India, and that also spread over the next three to four months."
On the US, Puri said India has a robust bilateral energy relationship with Washington.
The minister informed that the Government has set a target of increasing the share of natural gas in the primary energy mix from 6.7
per cent to 15 per cent by 2030.
Expanding the city gas distribution network through the establishment of CNG stations and providing piped natural gas to households,
industries and commercial establishments are one of the strategies for increasing the consumption of natural gas, he said.