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India will make the energy transition but affordability is key: petroleum minister


Energy needs to remain affordable to allow for GDP per capita growth

LPG can help attain some of the UN's sustainable development goals

  • Author
  • Virginie Malicier
  • Editor
  • Jonathan Loades-Carter
  • Commodity
  • Agriculture Coal Energy Transition Natural Gas Oil

The recent energy crisis may have reinforced India's desire to make the energy transition but the government needs to make sure that the country can continue to grow, notably in term of GDP per capita, India's petroleum minister said Nov. 16.

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"A democratically elected government has to ensure access of its citizens to energy, especially when there are lots of development challenges...Our country may be the fifth largest economy in the world but it still has a low per capita income," India's Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Hardeep S. Puri told LPG market players gathered in Delhi for LPG Week global conference.

According to him, any shortage of energy would be catastrophic in India, considering that "energy is the lifetime of an economy" and the recent crisis has affected not only the price of fuels, but also of fertilizers and food.

In term of energy security, India currently imports most of its crude oil and gas needs. However, the country exports refined oil products such as ultra-low sulfur diesel and jet fuel, notably to Europe and sometimes the US Atlantic Coast, data from Platts cFlow ship and commodity tracking software from S&P Global Commodity Insights shows.

Talking about sustainable development targets, Puri highlighted the importance of adapting them to the local realities. "You need to survive the present but ensure that availability and affordability of energy remain for the developing world," he added.

'Blue flame revolution'

While the EU and some other developed economies such as the UK are increasing efforts to move away from fossil fuels with a target of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, India has its own goal of achieving the decarbonization of its economy by 2070. In the meantime, the country sees LPG's universal use as cooking fuel as an efficient way to improve the life of its citizens and reduce pollution.

"LPG can help attain some of the UN's sustainable development goals," Puri said. "In 2016, the "blue flame revolution" scheme was launched and it contributed to cleaner air and the women empowerment cause," he said, adding that, thanks to the scheme, LPG penetration in the country reached almost 100% in 2022 from 61% in 2016. "Almost every household in India has an LPG cylinder."

Also speaking at the global LPG conference, managing director at Oryx Gaz Tanzania's managing director Benoit Araman said many poor countries could not afford to move straight away from fossil fuels.

"LPG could be the social energy that they need to move away population from use of harmful fuels that they use today," he said, referring to the fact that a very large number of people in sub-Saharan Africa were still using coal and biomass such as wood to cook, and that butane was by far the best alternative in the short-to-medium term.