India to release crude oil from strategic reserves to cool prices
India plans to release about 5 million barrels of crude oil from its emergency stockpile in tandem with the US, Japan and other major economies to cool prices, news agency PTI reported today quoting a top government official.
The United States had last week made the unusual request to some of the world’s largest oil-consuming nations, including China, India and Japan, to consider releasing crude stockpiles in coordinated effort to lower global energy prices.
This after members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies rebuffed repeated requests to speed up their production increases.
India stores about 38 million barrels of crude oil in underground caverns at three locations on the east and west coast.
Of this, about 5 million barrels will be released, starting as early as 7-10 days, the official, who wished not to be named told PTI.
The stocks will be sold to Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) which are connected by pipeline to the strategic reserves.
“We may look at releasing more reserves later,” the official said adding a formal announcement was expected later in the day.
India is the world’s third-largest oil consumer and importing nation and has been severely impacted by the relentless rise in international oil prices. Since the US move, global oil prices are on the decline. Brent crude was trading at USD 78.72 per barrel, down from USD 81.24 a barrel 10-days back. On October 26, it had hit a multi-year high of $86.40.
Just like the US, it also believes that high prices are starting to produce unwanted inflation and undermine recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Retail petrol and diesel prices shot up to record levels earlier this month before the government cut taxes, costing it ₹60,000 crore in revenue this year.
India has 5.33 million tonnes of underground crude oil storage at two places on the east and the west coast.
While China has said it is working on a crude release, Japan has also signalled its readiness.
India has built 1.33 million tonnes of storage at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, and 1.5 million tonnes at Mangaluru and 2.5 million tonnes at Padur (both in Karnataka).
The official said the stocks from the reserves will be released in tandem with other countries.
“Dates, etc are being worked out,” he said.
ADNOC of UAE has leased half of the Mangalore storage while the remaining is with state-owned Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL). State-owned firms and government have stocked oil at the other facilities.
The US is also expected to announce a loan of crude oil from its emergency stockpile on Tuesday as part of a plan it hashed out with major Asian energy consumers to lower energy prices, according to reports.