India asks producers for 'sensitivity' as oil price hovers near $90

FILE PHOTO: India's Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri speaks during the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) in Abu Dhabi

By Yousef Saba, Maha El Dahan and Nidhi Verma

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - India, the world's third-biggest oil importer, on Tuesday urged producers to show "sensitivity" towards consuming countries, hit by prices largely trading above $90 a barrel since Saudi Arabia and Russia decided to extend voluntary cuts to year-end.

"During pandemic, when crude oil prices crashed, the world came together to stabilize the prices to make it sustainable for the producers," Indian oil minister Hardeep Singh Puri, in Abu Dhabi to attend an industry conference, said after a meeting with OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al Ghais.

"Now, as the world is at cusp of economic recession and slowdown, oil producers need to show same sensitivity towards the consuming countries," Puri said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

The U.S. and Western allies have urged OPEC+ to raise output to secure lower energy costs and help the global economy. OPEC+ producers argue they are acting to maintain market stability and being preemptive.

Puri later told Reuters, in an interview on the sidelines of the ADIPEC conference in Abu Dhabi, he had discussed oil prices with Ghais.

"If the petroleum and natural gas minister of one of the largest consuming countries meets the OPEC secretary general, who has an inside track into the OPEC+, surely we discussed prices," he said. "So I'm very happy to admit to you that we did."

Puri has long called for OPEC and its allies led by Russia, known as OPEC+, to consider how their policies affect oil-consuming countries.

"The opening position with any producing country - they will tell you, 'we don't deal with prices,' to which my response is that: if you deal with the amount of energy that you release - or stocks that you release - you may not want to, but you do affect prices."

India depends on imports for about 85% of its crude needs.

Puri, however, earlier said India will manage if oil prices rise above $100 per barrel even though such a price would not be in "anyone's interest".

India ships in about 60% of its oil imports worth $101 billion from OPEC nations, Puri said.

"I hope it (oil price) doesn't go above $100 ... India will manage ... I would worry about what happens to other parts of the developing world," he said during a panel at ADIPEC.

Indian refiners have snapped up discounted Russian oil after Western nations imposed sanctions and stopped buying from Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

Puri told Reuters India would not buy Russian oil if it went above Western countries' price cap of $60 a barrel.

"If the prices go above the cap, obviously we will not buy," he said.

(Reporting by Maha El Dahan, Yousef Saba and Alexander Cornwell in Abu Dhabi and Nidhi Verma in New Delhi, Editing by William Maclean)