Last month, at a conference organised by Nomura in Singapore Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari is reported to have made a startling promise...
We are trying our level best that the day will come when we don't need to import any fuel from any country and that we will be self-sufficient.
As per Business Standard, during the financial year 2016-17, India's total gross petroleum imports inclusive of crude and petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) segment stood at US$80.8 billion.
Imagine India not having to import crude oil. That would be revolutionary. Our import bills would fall sharply. One of our perpetual challenges - the current account deficit, would stop being such a big worry. Inflation in India would seize to be highly vulnerable to international crude oil prices. And it goes without saying that it would be a game-changer for India's currency. The day India achieves fuel self-sufficiency, the Indian rupee would appreciate sharply against the US dollar.
That's music to the ears! India is the world's third-largest oil consumer. And energy consumption in India is set to grow as our economy remains one of the few 'bright spots' in a slowing, aging world economy.
Now, when would that happen? Mr Gadkari has no specific timeline for the target. That's the interesting bit. Politicians sell hopes and dreams. They can get away without giving facts and timelines.
So, we did our own homework to get a sense how self-sufficient is India when it comes to petroleum products. And here's what we found...
As per Business Standard, while India's petroleum consumption has gone up from 148 million tonnes in 2011-12 to 194.2 million tonnes in 2016-17, the total production from indigenous crude and condensate actually declined during this period from 35.6 million tonnes in 2011-12 to 34.8 million tonnes in 2016-17.
What does this mean?
In a nutshell, India's petroleum self-sufficiency dropped to 17.9% in 2016-17 from 24.1% in 2011-12. The other way to look at it is that India's dependence on petroleum imports has been increasing. And that's not good news.
Data Source: Business Standard, PPAC