Following Crash In Crude Oil Prices, India Will Spend Rs 5,000 Crores To Fill Up Its Strategic Petroleum Reserves

Following Crash In Crude Oil Prices, India Will Spend Rs 5,000 Crores To Fill Up Its Strategic Petroleum Reserves

by Swarajya Staff - Mar 20, 2020 02:47 PM +05:30 IST
Following Crash In Crude Oil Prices, India Will Spend Rs 5,000 Crores To Fill Up Its Strategic Petroleum ReservesOil rigs extracting petroleum (David McNew/Getty Images)

India has decided to take advantage of the low oil prices in major producing centres in Saudi Arabia and the UAE to top up its strategic oil reserves, two government officials privy to the information said.

The government has decided to buy oil worth Rs 5,000 crore (about $670 million) at the current price of around $30 a barrel for deliveries starting in April-May. These purchases will help fill up three petroleum reserve caverns with a capacity of 5.33 million tonnes (MT) of oil created by the India Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd (ISPRL).

Global crude oil fell about 40 per cent in March (to about $25 a barrel now) so far after talks of production cut between the OPEC and Russia failed.

"The plan is to first get Aramco and Adnoc to fill strategic reserve capacity that they can also use for commercial gains later. If companies are reluctant at this juncture, the ISPRL will buy oil on its own once government provides it with requisite budget. Alternatively, PSU oil marketing such as IOC, BPCL may be asked to contract oil for storage in the reserves," said one of the government officials.

"Filling reserves at this juncture with low oil prices will help our initiative to build larger strategic oil capacities," the official added.

It is estimated that the government would save between $500-600 million if just over half of the existing strategic reserve capacity is filled with Gulf oil. The benefit will not only accrue from lower global oil prices, but Gulf oil producers have indicated that they would also offer good discount on oil.

Around half of the 5.33 MT of India's strategic petroleum reserve is full now. Once full capacity is contracted and filled, the country would be in a position to meet 9.5 days of its oil needs through the strategic reserve.

India currently has 5.33 million tones underground strategic reserve facilities at Vishakhapatnam, Mangalore and Padur. Another 6.5 mt facility is coming up at Padur and Chandikhole.

Work on two more facilities in Bikaner and Rajkot would be initiated soon. When completed, these would hold enough oil to meet over a month of domestic requirements.

In addition, the Oil Ministry has told ISPRL to identify new sites so that storage for 90-100 days stock of oil ready in the country at all times.

A large strategic oil capacity could benefit a lot from lower oil prices as it presented huge savings for the government and companies that also could be commercially exploited for larger gains.

The present budget of Rs 5,000 crore would be sufficient to fill the entire 5.33 MT tonnes of reserves that are already half filled. This would not have been possible earlier, when oil prices were high.

The ISPRL has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ADNOC for the lease of half of its 2.5 MT at the Padur facility. Last year, it also signed an MoU with Saudi Aramco for the lease of a quarter of Padur SPR.

The ISPRL has already leased half of the 1.5 million tonnes capacity in Mangalore storage to ADNOC.

It has also filled its 1.03 million tonnes Vizag facility with Basra oil from another OPEC producer, Iraq.

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