India needs broad-based energy support, IEA says

April 13 (UPI) — The Indian economy needs a balanced energy sector where growth in renewables is complemented by deeper invests in exploration and production, the IEA said.

IEA Executive Director Faith Birol has wrapped up a meeting in New Delhi, which joined the group as an associate member last year.

India has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Its trade deficit hit $16.3 billion in January, the highest level in more than five years. Year-over-year, Indian imports of petroleum, crude oil and petroleum products increased more than 40 percent

In a readout of his meeting, the IEA said Birol was supportive of broad-based overhauls to the energy sector in India.

“His remarks covered the need for investment in upstream oil to meet rising demand and offset decline in mature fields, how competitive prices are vital for growth in gas markets, the rapid growth in solar and wind, and prospects for reaching universal access to electricity, including India’s significant achievements over recent years in this respect,” the IEA stated.

The Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known commonly as Saudi Aramco, signed a memorandum of understanding this week with a consortium of oil companies in India to jointly develop and build a refinery complex in the western coastal state of Maharashtra.

At its peak, the refinery would be able to process 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day. With an estimated cost of $44 billion, the refinery would be among the world’s largest and designed to meet India’s growing appetite for fuels and petrochemicals.

Analysis emailed Friday to UPI from consultant group Wood Mackenzie said the agreement is a milestone, but more may be needed.

“If India is to be self-sufficient, the need for new capacity to meet the growing demand in the longer term is clear,” senior analyst Serena Nuang said.

For renewables, state-owned Indian Oil Corp. and online transportation network company Ola took a “big leap” toward a greener India in November with the launch of the country’s first-ever electric vehicle charging station in Nagpur, the largest city of central India. Last month, French energy company ENGIE said signed on to solar and wind power projects with a combined capacity of 608 megawatts of peak capacity, with the majority coming from solar energy.

A party to the multilateral Paris climate agreement, India has set a goal of reducing its emissions by about 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

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