India to buy oil from cheapest supplier; Saudi min response 'undiplomatic': Pradhan

With Saudi Arabia giving cold shoulder to its plea for easing production controls, India on Friday said it will buy oil from any country that will give it at cheaper rates and on favourable business terms.

Refiners in the world’s third-biggest oil importer are snapping up more cargoes from outside the Middle East in an attempt to diversify suppliers.

The US in February overtook Saudi Arabia to become India’s second-biggest supplier but that happened prior to the March 4 decision of the OPEC+ alliance to keep a tight rein on output.

Speaking at Times Network India Economic Conclave, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said India will keep its interests in mind while deciding on imports.

He termed Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman asking India to use oil it bought at rock bottom rates last year instead of egging producers to raise output to cool prices as an “undiplomatic answer” by a “close friend”.

“India will keep its interest in mind in deciding on its strategic and economic decisions,” he said. “We are a consuming nation and we will have to import energy for a long time. So whosoever gives up cheap, and easy, we will buy from them.”

Anyone supplying oil at cheaper rates is the priority. “Whichever country it may be… We have to do, we will do,” he said. Pradhan had in the run-up to March 4 meeting of OPEC+ urged the producers’ group to ease production curbs to fulfill their promise of stable oil prices, saying rising international oil prices were hurting economic recovery and demand.