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Oil price slump a chance to enhance energy security: Pradhan

Hyderabad: India sees the current slump in oil prices as an opportunity to enhance its energy security, and the government has told state-owned companies in the sector to aggressively scout for acquisition of assets overseas, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said.

Noting that ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL) has acquired a stake in Russia’s second biggest oilfield of Vankor, the Minister said he has already told state-owned oil companies to go in for aggressive acquisition of assets overseas.

“This is the time we can secure our energy security,” Pradhan told PTI in an interview here.

However, underlining that the Centre would not resort to a “knee-jerk” reaction vis-a-vis low oil prices, he expressed the view they could go up again and indicated that things cannot be taken for granted.

“We should not see this (depressed oil prices) as only advantageous or loss position. This is a cycle. Today it’s falling. Everybody is predicting that after (some) time, it will go up again. So, we should not do anything knee-jerk. There is advantage as on today,” Pradhan said.

“We have to realise that this is a cycle. Today, it’s in downward (trend), someday it will go upwards. Don’t get into knee-jerk reaction. (We don’t know) when it will go up. Let’s wait and watch…How they (prices) will emerge…We will react,” he added.

Global Brent crude oil prices sank to an 11-year low of USD 36.05 last Monday on the back of high US oil inventories.

India is the world’s third largest importer of crude oil following the US and China. India reportedly saved Rs 2.2 lakh crore on its oil imports during April-November 2015.

The Minister further said: “Our priority today is to give relief to our consumers,” he said, while noting that diesel prices have been decontrolled.”

Ever since the NDA government came to power in June last year, the price of petrol has been reduced more than 20 times and of diesel 16 times, resulting in net reduction in price of both fuels by Rs 13 each. “That apart, we have kept some money for developmental activities,” he said.