India's oil minister says volatility could hurt energy transition

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FILE PHOTO: Oil tankers are seen parked at a yard outside a fuel depot on the outskirts of Kolkata
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By Yousef Saba and Alex Lawler

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - India's oil minister said on Monday he was concerned about high oil prices, and price volatility could harm the world's energy transition.

Hardeep Singh Puri told Reuters on the sidelines of an oil and gas conference in Abu Dhabi that when "petrol prices are - and diesel prices - are going literally through the roof, obviously, we are concerned".

India has been at the forefront of efforts to urge the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to ensure "responsible pricing" of oil that suits both producer and consumers.

"Does it have to be affordable? Yes. If energy is not affordable, you're going to have a problem," he said.

He said it was up to OPEC and allies led by Russia, known as OPEC+, whether to quicken the pace of increasing output, but "you cannot have a situation in which the transition is not orderly, stable, and predictable."

Puri said despite underinvestment in the sector, excess capacity of some 5 million barrels per day was available that could be pumped into the market and stabilise prices, but is being held back by producing countries.

"Those decisions, they are taking for whatever reason, maybe they think it's a good time to make up for the low prices that were there during the economic lockdown, he said.

"I have a very different take on it. Sometimes when you take decisions for short-term gain, you may unleash other forces."

He said he expected oil demand to fall if prices "go beyond a point".

"Already, one big country, which is a 20 trillion-dollar economy, has the highest inflation figures in the last 30 years. So there is reality staring you in the face."

He said producers also need the energy transition to be orderly and would be hurt if prices became too high.

(Reporting by Yousef Saba and Alex Lawler in Abu Dhabi; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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