India will drive demand in energy sector in 10-20 years, says Hardeep Singh Puri

India will be the “critical driver of demand” in the energy sector in the next 10-20 years, Union Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Saturday, adding that the measures the Indian government has taken during the pandemic, which includes steps for energy security, could ensure that the country achieves its $5 trillion economy target before 2030.

Puri was addressing a ‘Commerce and Industry 2.0’ session at the India Ideas Conclave in Bengaluru.

“We have a problem in the short run…a global economy with $110 a barrel of oil is not sustainable. The inflationary situation in the US is at a 50-year-high, neighbouring countries are in trouble…yet (in) India, thanks to the very strong political leadership and farsightedness of our people, there’s no energy shortage here,” Puri said.

The minister said that with 60 million going to a petrol pump every day, and with a daily consumption of 5 million barrels a day, it’s the steps taken by the Indian government that will ensure energy security.

“Post pandemic, India has emerged much stronger in international trade and international exchanges. I believe that the target of a $5 trillion economy by 2030 is not only achievable but we can get there before that,” Puri said.

Addressing the three-day conclave organised by India Foundation, a think tank backed by the BJP and the RSS, said India has already increased bio-fuel blending from 1.4 per cent in 2014 to 10 per cent and the target is 20 per cent by 2030. “But we will achieve the blending target by 2025,” he said, adding that the country has also increased the oil exploration area.

“Although I am hesitant to use the word affordability due to the price rise, there is a degree of confidence I have for energy security, because of the increase in the refining capacity. It will reach 400 million tonnes per annum before long,” Puri said.

The minister also spoke about the increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection (last month, it reached Rs 1.68 lakh crore), measures taken to promote entrepreneurship (India had 44 unicorns in 2021) and the government’s initiatives for technology innovations as other positives.

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Asked if the government is taking steps to sustain the achievements of the start-up sector, the minister said: “It’s not the government’s job to worry about it. If you are capable of (becoming a) unicorn, you are smart enough to sustain it too…The government can provide a supportive ecosystem…,” Puri said.

Atul Keshap, president of US India Business Council, said there is room for growth in India-US trade ties. The key now is how the two countries can explore the potential as two strong democracies. “Digital economic trade between the US and India, that is over $ US 100 billion dollars, is climbing fast. It is this trade that is the goose that lays the golden eggs,” he said. He also said the two sides would need to create structures, regulations and legal frameworks to ensure continued vitality and growth.

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