Riyadh, New Delhi pitch for closer energy cooperation
Energy security and joint investments with special reference to the progressively growing Saudi-India ties were raised as priority aspects of cooperation during talks between Ali Al-Naimi, minister of petroleum and mineral resources, and Dharmendra Pradhan, Indian minister of oil and natural gas, here Tuesday. Pradhan is currently on a visit to the Kingdom to hold consultations with senior Saudi officials.
“The talks, attended by Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, assistant minister of petroleum and mineral resources, also focused on global oil market and environmental issues,” said an official source. Both sides pledged to work closely with an aim to further “ramp up” cooperation in the oil and gas sector, he added. The two sides looked at the possibilities of forging “deeper partnership” in the hydrocarbon sector, he said.
A range of issues related to global oil market were also discussed by the two sides. In fact, the downward slide in crude oil prices to four-year lows is a huge positive for India as the country depends on imports for more than three-fourths of its consumption.
Senior Saudi and Indian officials, including Ibrahim A. Al-Muhanna and Nasser Al-Dosari, the minister’s advisers, as well as Indian Ambassador Hamid Ali Rao were present in the meeting.
Referring to the subjects of talks, an SPA report said that the two ministers also discussed oil sales and purchases. Saudi Arabia, the largest crude supplier to India, is the fourth largest trading partner for New Delhi. The value of the two-way trade between the two countries in 2013-2014 exceeded $48.75 billion and $ 16.37 billion during April-July 2014. The import of crude oil by India forms a major component of bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia.
During the current year, Saudi Arabia is the sixth largest market in the world for Indian exports and is the destination of more than 3.89 percent of India’s global exports. According to energy analysts, Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter and India is the world’s fourth largest oil consumer after United States, China and Japan. It wants to engage India as a major market for its energy products.
Saudi Arabia’s two giant companies Saudi Aramco and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) are also looking at major investment opportunities in India. Analysts said that while crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia are expected to double over the next 10 to 15 years, India is likely to become the second largest consumer of the commodity during the same period.