India signals willingness to release more oil reserves

India will take “reasonable” steps to calm the rise in oil prices sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the junior oil minister said on Monday, noting that the country would release more oil from national stockpiles if needed could.

India, the world’s third largest oil consumer and importer, imports about 85% of its oil needs.

“The Indian government stands ready to take all reasonable measures to mitigate market volatility and calm the rise in crude oil prices,” Mr. Rameswar Teli said in a written response to lawmakers.

Last month India said it was ready to release additional crude from its national stockpiles to support efforts by other major oil importers to temper soaring global prices.

Mr Teli said in November the federal government had joined other big consumers in releasing 5 million barrels of oil from its strategic petroleum reserves in a bid to stem inflationary pressures.

On Monday, Mr Teli said India was “closely monitoring global energy markets as well as possible disruptions to energy supplies as a result of the evolving geopolitical situation”.

India buys only a fraction of its oil from Russia but has been hit hard by a surge in global oil prices due to Western sanctions on Moscow, the world’s second largest crude oil exporter.

The Indian crude oil basket had risen to $112.59/barrel by March 11 after averaging $84.67/barrel in January and $94.07/barrel in February.

Indian oil majors have not hiked fuel prices since November 4 to protect customers from higher costs.

However, to lower import costs for companies, India is considering a Russian offer to sell its crude oil and other commodities at a discount, Indian officials said.

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