India signals readiness to release more oil reserves
India will take “appropriate” measures to calm rising oil prices, triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the deputy oil minister said on Monday, indicating that the country could release more oil from national stocks if necessary.
India, the world’s third largest oil consumer and importer, imports around 85% of its oil needs.
“The Government of India is ready to take all appropriate measures deemed appropriate to mitigate market volatility and calm rising crude oil prices,” Rameswar Teli said in a written response to lawmakers.
Last month, India said it was ready to release additional crude from its domestic stockpiles to support efforts by other major oil importers to mitigate the surge in world prices.
Teli said in November that the federal government had joined other big consumers in releasing 5 million barrels of oil from its strategic oil reserves to contain inflationary pressures.
On Monday, Mr Teli said India was “closely monitoring global energy markets as well as potential energy supply disruptions as a fallout from the evolving geopolitical situation”.
India buys only a fraction of its oil from Russia, but has been hit hard by soaring global oil prices due to Western sanctions against Moscow, the world’s second largest exporter of crude.
India’s basket of crude oil jumped to $112.59 a barrel as of March 11, after averaging $84.67 a barrel in January and $94.07 in February.
Indian oil companies have not raised fuel prices since November 4 to protect customers from rising costs.
However, to ease the cost of imports for businesses, India is considering a Russian offer to sell its crude oil and other commodities at a discount, Indian government sources said.