Captains of global oil industry promised to step up investment in the “rapidly expanding” Indian market. The PM assured a house full of foreign and domestic oil bosses of addressing their remaining policy concerns.
Modi said his government was functioning in the mode of a social reformer with co-ordinated policy, strategy and implementation.
Captains of global oil industry on Monday gave their thumbs-up to the transformation in the sector brought about by the Narendra Modi government and promised to step up investment in the “rapidly expanding” Indian market but saw scope for further reforms, including expanding GST (goods and services tax) coverage across the sector.
On his part, the PM assured a house full of foreign and domestic oil bosses of addressing their remaining policy concerns, including working with states on GST, and outlined his government’s two-pronged strategy for expanding access to clean and affordable energy for growth.
This was Modi’s second brainstorming session with oilmen, the last one being on January 5, 2016. Within a year of the last session, the government had announced a slew of measures to make it easier for explorers to do business, including removing gas price anomalies and bringing in a more transparent licensing policy for awarding exploration blocks.
“Between then and today, the rapid transformation we see is nothing but miraculous,” one of the executives present in Monday’s session said on condition of anonymity. This optimism summed up the general mood among the chief executives, evident from a gathering of such a large number CEOs, promoters and regional heads of oil, gas and oilfield services heavyweights. Many of the CEOs flew in for the meeting and left soon after, spending just a few hours in the Capital for Modi’s session.
“This is the emerging power of India under leadership of PM Modi,” oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who was present at the session.
But the promise of investment from the CEOs also came with a wishlist: open access regime for pipelines with a tariff board, a gas exchange for determining the market prices apart from GST, which they felt would do away with the cascading effect of multiple taxes, especially for sectors such as power where other energy sources such as coal are part of the new tax regime.
Noting their point, Modi said his government was functioning in the mode of a social reformer with co-ordinated policy, strategy and implementation. He particularly mentioned ‘Ujjwala’ and ‘Saubhagya’ schemes for providing free cooking gas and power connections, respectively, to poor households to explain the government’s strategy of expanding energy access.
Reiterating his policy of reducing India’s import dependence for oil by pumping up domestic production, the PM told the CEOs India was committed to creating a gas-based economy in line with commitments made at the Paris climate meet. Referring to Indian mythology, the PM said like the Sun God’s chariot that is drawn by seven horses, India’s energy juggernaut will be fuelled by seven sources: oil, gas, coal, hydro, wind, biomass and nuclear.
“The PM said that the region has manpower and natural resources and the gas network which will fire fertiliser plants and the planned refineries will help in the development of eastern India,” Amitabh Kant, CEO of government’s think-tank Niti Aayog, told reporters.
Sources counted Bob Dudley, chief executive of BP Plc; Igor Sechin, head of Russian oil giant Rosneft and a close confidante of President Vladimir Putin; Amin H Nasser, chief executive of the world’s largest oil exporter Saudi Aramco; Robert S Franklin, vice-president of ExxonMobil, Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries, Anil Agarwal of Vedanta, IndianOil’s Sanjeev Singh, ONGC’s Shashi Shanker, GAIL’s B C Tripathi, Hindutan Petroleum’s M K Surana, Oil India’s B C Borah and Petronet LNG’s Prabhat Singh among the chiefs who attended the session.