Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri calls OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia to convey concerns over high oil prices

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Continuing his oil diplomacy, Petroleum Minister ‎Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday called OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia to convey India’s concerns about high oil prices which have pushed fuel rates to record high. A day after he spoke to his UAE counterpart, Puri ‎spokes to Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman Al Saud, Minister of Energy of Saudi Arabia. He had on Saturday spoken to his Qatari counterpart.

“Saudi Arabia is a central player in international energy market,” he tweeted. “I conveyed my desire to work with His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz to bring greater predictability and calm in the global oil markets, and also to see hydrocarbons become more affordable.”

Puri described his discussions with the Saudi Minister as “warm and friendly”.

The discussions focused “on strengthening bilateral energy partnership and developments in the global energy markets,” he said. “Highlighted the crucial role of Saudi Arabia in rapidly growing energy needs of India in the coming years, and my strong desire to work with His Royal Highness to further diversify our bilateral strategic energy partnership beyond buyer-seller to see greater two-way investments.”

As fuel prices climbed to a record high, Puri has started dialling oil-producing nations to impress upon them for a need to make prices affordable for consumers.

Puri, who last week called Energy Minister of Qatar, on Wednesday dialled his counterpart in the UAE, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber.

OPEC, Russia and several other allies in a production accord could not reach an agreement earlier this month on output quotas for August and possibly beyond. Expectations were that the alliance may agree to raise production by 500,000 to 700,000 barrels per day but the decision was postponed as the UAE differed on the baseline for such output increase.

India is the world’s third-largest consumer of crude and OPEC nations such as Saudi Arabia have traditionally been its principal oil source. But OPEC and OPEC+ ignoring its call for easing of supply curbs, had led India to tap newer sources to diversify its crude oil imports.

As a result, OPEC’s share in India’s oil imports has dropped to about 60 per cent in May from 74 per cent in the previous month.

The two sides have somewhat patched up relations, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE supplying critical medicine, oxygen and equipment to help India battle its second wave of coronavirus infections.

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