Crude Oil Prices Could Slide To $20 Per Barrel; India Eyes Boosting Strategic Petroleum Reserves With Cheap OilA strategic oil reserve near Visakhapatnam (Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited)

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic crisis, global oil prices have remained suppressed. The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) traded at $23.41 per barrel on Wednesday (18 March), while Brent crude was trading at a 16-year low of $26.02 per barrel, reports Livemint.

Goldman Sachs, a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm expects crude prices to touch the $20 per barrel mark.

The reduction in demand due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 coupled with enhanced supply of oil in the wake of Russia's refusal to back deeper output cuts at a meeting of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have led to the historic fall in oil prices.

This will also have a huge impact on the US shale oil producers.

However as per the report, India, which is the world's third-highest importer and consumer of oil, is exploring ways to leverage the drop of oil price and boost its ambitious Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves programme (ISPRL).

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also said that they will increase output while cutting prices, giving big consumers the chance to fill up at discounted prices.

The LiveMint reports quotes an official as saying that the oil ministry has written to the finance ministry to release about 5,000 crores to buy oil for filling up the storage.

It should be noted that to ensure energy security, the Government of India had decided to set up 5 million metric tons (MMT) of strategic crude oil storages at three locations – Visakhapatnam, Mangalore and Padur (near Udupi).

These strategic reserves would be in addition to the existing storages of crude oil and petroleum products with the oil companies and would serve as a cushion during any external supply disruptions.

The 2017-18 budget announced setting up of additional 6.5 Million Metric Tonne (MMT) Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR) facilities at Chandikhol in Odisha and Padur in Karnataka.

The construction of the Strategic Crude Oil Storage facilities is being managed by Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL), a Special Purpose Vehicle, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB) under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas.

ISPRL has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UAE’s national oil company ADNOC in November 2018 and it also has an MoU with Saudi Aramco for the lease of a quarter of Padur SPR.

India's other strategic petroleum reserve located in Visakhapatnam has stored oil from Iraq, which is also a member of OPEC.

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