India to seek energy security

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, January 16:

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh today said India will seek to achieve energy security with intense domestic exploration, acquiring overseas hydrocarbon assets and restructuring of state-run oil firms.

“We can no longer be complacent and must learn to think strategically, to think ahead and to act swiftly and decisively,” he said, inaugurating a biennial global conference on petroleum and natural gas here. “I find China ahead of us in planning for the future in the field of energy,” the prime minister told the four-day long Petrotech 2005 meet that has drawn over 2,500 experts and delegates from India and overseas.

Manmohan Singh said there was a national consensus today on India’s policy with respect to strengthening its oil and gas companies to make them globally entities. “Our government will help in the growth of a strong and vibrant public sector which can compete on an equal footing with the private sector on the same terms and conditions,” he said. He lauded the efforts of ONGC Videsh Ltd and Indian Oil Corp in this regard, but said there was still some distance to go in catching up with global competition.

“I urge our oil and gas public sector undertakings (PSUs) to think big, think creatively and think boldly. They have to be more fleet-footed in making use of global opportunities, both on the supply and demand side,” Manmohan Singh said. “We are exploring the possibilities of restructuring our oil PSUs to make them globally competitive,” he told the conference where top executives of around 230 companies, including over 30 from abroad, are participating.

Organised by the Petrotech Society, a non-profit organisation of the oil and gas industry, under the aegis of the Indian petroleum ministry, the conference is expected to discuss 550 research papers, including 120 from overseas experts. Debates were also kicked off on various aspects of the oil sector, including non-conventional gas sources with participation from Canada, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the US, Britain, Norway and Switzerland.

Showcasing the present Indian oil and gas scenario with an eye on the future, Petro-tech has drawn first-time participants from France, Senegal, Serbia, Poland and Israel. The prime minister said India’s targeted economic growth rate of seven-eight percent would generate an increase in energy demand of an equal magnitude. “The challenge for policy makers is to provide for this increase in demand.” Given the fact that India imports around 70 per cent of its oil needs, Manmohan Singh accordingly laid equal emphasis on energy conservation, new technologies to tap non-conventional sources and on investing in exploration.

“India is not blessed with the luxury of abundant fossil fuels. Hence, to make our growth model more sustainable, we must step up the efficiency of energy consumption to moderate the impact of growth on demand for energy,” he said. “I am told with better energy conversion and more efficient use, we could save up to 10 million tonnes of oil per year, which is significant. Energy efficiency and conservation should hence be integral to any energy strategy,” he said. Manmohan Singh also said that rational pricing of energy was another critical aspect of energy policy.