US becomes sixth largest supplier of crude to India: Dharmendra Pradhan

In a sign of strengthening bilateral ties, the United States has become the sixth largest supplier of crude oil to India, petroleum minister said on Tuesday.

India had started importing crude oil from the United States after more than four decades, only in 2017-18. The jump of the US with in a span of three years is significant as India is importing crude from a wide basket of 39 countries.

“The US emerging as the sixth largest source for crude oil imports, is a significant development. India is also now the fourth largest export destination for US crude,” Pradhan said addressing a CII, US India Business Council event in Delhi.

India’s LNG imports from US also increased progressively ever since the imports started in March 2018. India is now the fifth argest destination of US exports of LNG. Pradhan said that the high importance attached to the energy component of the bilateral engagement is rather evident from positive developments during the last three years under the India-US strategic energy partnership.

The other major sources for crude oil for India in 2019-20 include Iraq, Saudi Arabia,Nigeria, UAE and Venezuela. The Minister said that India’s bilateral hydrocarbon trade has increased exponentially during the last three years, and it touched US $7.7 billion mark last year, accounting for 11 per cent of total two-way trade.

“Both Secretary Dan Brouillette and I have agreed that there is a need now to develop industry-level engagements for technology infusions as well as investment partnerships in the energy sector,” he added. Yesterday, Brouillette and Pradhan reviewed the ongoing strategic energy partnership. The next Ministerial meeting of the Strategic Energy Partnership is scheduled in April this year.

On the issue of IOCL and ExxonMobil signing a Letter of Cooperation (LoC) for increasing access of LNG in Indian gas market, Pradhan said that this is an initiative incubated under the India-US Gas Task Force. Energy sector is expected to be a key contributor in India’s plan to become a $ 5 trillion economy by 2024.

Pradhan said that the vision of becoming a gas-based economy is yet another area of close collaboration between India and US. In this connection, the India-US Gas Task Force constituted in 2018 under the Strategic energy Partnership is doing pioneering work. The Task Force is providing innovative policy recommendations to expedite development of gas-based economy in India.