MonitorsPublished on Oct 22, 2022
Energy News Monitor | Volume XIX, Issue 16
Quick Notes

Oil Prices: Between OPEC and NOPEC


At the 33rd OPEC (oil producing and exporting countries) and non-OPEC (together OPEC+) ministerial meeting on 5th October 2022, the decision to reduce overall oil production by 2 mb/d (million barrels per day) from the August 2022 required production levels, starting from November 2022 was announced.  The USA, the largest producer of crude oil in 2021 called the move “disappointing and short sited”.  India, the third largest importer of crude oil stated that it is “confident of navigating OPEC+ production cuts”.  Given that the per person income of USA in 2021 at over US$69,287 (current US$) was almost thirty times that of India at US$2277 and given that the USA produced over 16.5 mb/d of crude oil, the largest in the world and almost 22 times that of India, it would have been more appropriate if confidence came from the USA and disappointment from India.  The difference in positions reflects the difference in what is at stake for USA and India.  For India high crude prices are cushioned by high taxes and slow pass through of international prices that enables management of voter sentiment. For the US government that will face mid-term elections in November there is a lot at stake as voter sentiment is negatively affected by high crude oil price that is passed through immediately to the lightly taxed retail price of petrol (gasoline).

OPEC Plus: Its the Economy?

According to OPEC+, the decision to cut production is not political but economic given the uncertainty that prevails over global economic and oil market outlooks.  There is some merit in this argument. Crude oil prices traded at an average of US$ 90/b in September, their lowest in 7 months, and continued to decline till October 3 in response to slowing global demand and the monotonically strengthening US Dollar.

The IMF’s world economic outlook (WEO) released last week forecasts that global economic growth will slow from 3.2 percent this year to 2.7 percent next year. The IMF expects the global deceleration to be broad-based, with projections for 2023 at less than half of last year’s 6 percent expansion. Countries accounting for about a third of the global economy are estimated to have a two-quarter contraction in real GDP (gross domestic product) in 2022 or 2023. The WEO says that there is a one-in-four probability that global growth will fall below 2 percent in 2023 and that there is a likelihood of 10 percent to 15 percent that it will drop below 1 percent.

According to the IEA (international energy agency) the slowdown of the economy and higher prices sparked by the OPEC+ plan to cut supply are slowing world oil demand, which is now expected to contract by 340,000 b/d y-o-y in the fourth quarter of 2022. The IEA expects demand growth reduced to 1.9 mb/d in 2022 and to 1.7 mb/d in 2023, down by 600,000 b/d and 470,000 b/d, respectively, from predictions made in September 2022.  According to the IEA world oil demand is now forecast to average 101.3 mb/d in 2023.

Concern over global economic recession may be real but self-interest of the group, particularly the interests of the largest producer in the group, Saudi Arabia also played a part in the decision. In 2022, Saudi Arabia is expected to register its first budget surplus after eight years of deficits caused by low oil prices and the Covid-19 pandemic. For its budget to break even, global oil prices must be at around US$79/b, according to the IMF. Last month, prices dropped to US$85/b from a high of $139/b just seven months ago. That was a warning sign for Saudi Arabia and other oil exporters, who depend on oil for a majority of their revenue.  It is estimated that price per barrel close the high US $90s is what Saudi Arabia wants.

NOPEC: Its Geopolitics?

The USA interprets production cuts by OPEC+ as a direct comment from Saudi Arabia’s highest leadership on the US stand against the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  The argument is that Russia is part of the OPEC+ group and any increase in price arising from the cuts will benefit Russia. While this may be a reason, US self-interest is a far more important factor in US condemnation of oil production cuts.  Simon Watkins shows in his book that since 2015, there is a clear link between oil and gas prices, the U.S. economy, and the chances of re-election as US president.  According to him, historical precedent highlights that every US$10/b change in the price of crude oil results in a 25-30 cent change in the price of a gallon of petrol (gasoline) or more than US$1 billion per year in discretionary additional consumer spending is lost. Watkins notes that this correlation has become even more dramatic in the last few elections. Since World War I, the sitting US president has won re-election 11 times out of 11 if the U.S. economy was not in recession within two years of an upcoming election. The average U.S. household spends over US$2,000 a year just on petrol (gasoline). Morgan Stanley estimates that if petrol prices are US$2.96/gallon this year, it would take an annualized US$38 billion from spending elsewhere. That would wipe out about a third of the additional take-home pay coming from the tax cuts this year.

In response, the USA has said that it will release an additional 10 million barrels of oil from the SPR (strategic petroleum reserve), in addition to the 180 million barrels it already committed earlier this year. The SPR has a capacity to hold 700 million barrels of oil but by September 2022 it had fallen to just over 400 million barrels, the lowest in 40 years.  SPR oil releases in 2021 have failed to contain crude oil prices.

The US is also considering using the No Oil Producing Exporting Cartels (“NOPEC”) Act to punish OPEC+. NOPEC is a longstanding, bipartisan, bicameral bill that would expose the OPEC, to US antitrust law for its cartel behaviour by removing the state immunity shield available to it under judicial precedent. Despite the enthusiasm in the US Congress for NOPEC, the legislation has faced considerable opposition from within the government and the business community. The challenges are on both legal and policy grounds. According to some experts, enforcement of NOPEC could increase oil price volatility while potentially depressing oil prices and bringing negative effects for US. oil producers. It may also deter foreign investors and government entities from purchasing or even maintaining assets in the USA.

Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2022

Monthly News Commentary: Oil

India Plans to Reduce Oil Imports



India’s minister of petroleum and natural gas, Hardeep Singh Puri, said most of his country’s crude oil supplies in the near future will come from the Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iraq, as it seeks a secure and affordable energy base. Indian refiners have been snapping up relatively cheap Russian oil, shunned by Western companies and countries since sanctions were imposed against Moscow for what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine. India’s imports from Russian oil rose by 4.7 times, or more than 400,000 barrels per day, in April-May, but fell in July. Crude oil imports from Saudi Arabia by the world’s third biggest oil importer and consumer rose in July by more than 25 percent after Saudi Arabia lowered the official selling price in June and July compared with May. Saudi Arabia stayed at the No. 3 spot among India’s suppliers. Puri said that by the end of the fiscal year on 31 March 2022, India’s purchases from Russia represented only 0.2 percent, but rose later as the global situation became “problematic”.

The Centre has begun a reassessment of the country’s future oil demand and refining capacity requirements as domestic consumption soars, planned refineries are delayed, and predictions of a quick end to the oil age falter. The petroleum planning and analysis cell of the oil ministry has been asked to prepare a fresh report on the future fuel demand and refining capacity needs. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects global oil demand to surpass pre-Covid levels next year. Domestic petrol and diesel demand have grown 23.4 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively, in the four months to July over the year earlier. The demand is 11 percent higher than the pre-Covid level for petrol and 2 percent lower for diesel. Overall demand for all refined products has risen 14 percent year-on-year in the April-July period. India is a net exporter of fuel but strong local demand has pushed up imports and reduced exports. An oil ministry report in 2018 had projected the country’s refining capacity at 259 million tonnes (MT) by 2020 and 415 MT by 2025. Covid has delayed a greenfield refinery being set up by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) at Barmer in Rajasthan while the inability to secure land has left the prospects of a proposed 60 million tonne-a-year refinery project on the western coast uncertain. The larger issue, however, is the doubt over the longevity of oil demand. India has the fourth-largest refining capacity in the world, behind the US (United States), China and Russia.

India has pushed into a corner of the Russian oil market once dominated by China, taking a record number of shipments of a Far Eastern grade as the fallout from Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine reshapes trade flows. India has emerged as a key buyer of Russian energy in the wake of the invasion, scooping up millions of barrels of discounted crude shunned by Europe and the US. As the conflict has dragged on, the third-largest oil importer first ramped up purchases of the flagship Urals crude, which loads from the western part of Russia, and is now competing for ESPO, a distillate-rich grade that comes from the east and was typically favoured by Chinese buyers. The ESPO shipments going to India are cheaper than the nation’s usual Middle Eastern grades, and will likely displace some flows from Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. A recent dip in purchases by China’s Sinopec freed up some volumes, enabling Indian buyers to swoop in. The August shipments of ESPO are up from July’s pace, when five cargoes went to ports such as Vadinar, Sikka, Paradip and Mundra. Refiners such as state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), as well as private processors Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and Nayara Energy Limited operate plants near those terminals.

The oil ministry is finalising a report which would suggest a comprehensive strategy to reduce import dependency on crude, gas and coal by 2024-25. The ministry had formed several working groups for monitoring the progress of various measures being taken by different departments and ministries to curb dependency on imported crude and gas. The reports prepared by these working groups have been compiled and would be presented as a comprehensive strategy on part of the Central government to reduce import dependency of crude oil, gas and coal in the entire energy sector.

The US and other nations in the world may not appreciate India buying Russian oil, but they have accepted it as New Delhi has not been defensive about its stand but made them realise the obligation the government has to its people amidst “unreasonably high” oil and gas prices, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar has said. Oil prices are “unreasonably high” and so are the gas prices. A lot of traditional suppliers to Asia are diverting to Europe because Europe is buying less oil from Russia, he said. India has raised oil imports from Russia after the Ukraine war despite criticism from the west and continues to engage with Moscow for business. Indian government said in June that India’s crude oil imports from Russia had jumped over 50 times since April. In May, Russia overtook Saudi Arabia to become India’s second-biggest supplier of oil behind Iraq as refiners snapped up Russian crude available at a deep discount following the war in Ukraine. Indian refiners bought about 25 million barrels of Russian oil in May.

India’s demand for petroleum products like petrol and diesel will grow by 7.73 percent in 2022, the fastest pace in the world, an OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) report said. India’s demand for oil products is projected to rise from 4.77 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2021 to 5.14 million bpd in 2022, the report said. For 2023, the OPEC projected a growth of 4.67 percent in India’s demand to 5.38 percent. This, however, will be lower than 4.86 percent growth in China. India is the world’s third largest oil importing and consuming nation behind the US and China. The demand for petroleum products in India is supported by the healthy economic growth of 7.1 percent, continuing economic reopening amid ease of COVID restrictions and easing of trade-related bottlenecks supporting both mobility and industrial sector activity. The report said the oil demand will see a dip in the third quarter (July-September) due to the arrival of the monsoon but will pick up the following quarter on the back of the festival and holiday season.


Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) launched its first indigenous LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) cylinder carrier with the second one expected to launch in the coming months. The ship will play a key role in ensuring supply of gas cylinders to the residents of Lakshwadeep’s scattered islands. The vessel, which can carry 2,000 gas cylinders, will be delivered to the Lakshwadeep administration in the next few months. GSL inked the contract for the two LPG carriers on 23 September 2019. Developed in house by GSL, the ship is designed to carry LPG cylinders from the mainland to various islands of Lakshadweep.

IOC’s LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) booking and delivery platform managed by tech giant IBM has been hit for the last two days by a software snag but the country’s largest fuel retailer said alternative methods were in place and supplies were being maintained through the manual mode. IOC along with IBM and Oracle are working to restore the system. Since most of the consumers have connections with two refills and supplies are near normal, households did not have to face LPG crisis. But those with single-cylinder connections will have to use alternative methods. IOC had in 2020 entered into a collaboration with IBM to transform its customer experience using digital tools.

Retail Prices

India plans to pay about INR200 bn (US$2.5 billion) to the fuel retailers, such as IOC, to partly compensate them for losses and keep a check on cooking gas prices. The oil ministry has sought a compensation of INR280 bn (US$3.42 bn), but the finance ministry is agreeing to only about a INR200 bn (US$2.45 bn) cash payout. The government had earmarked oil subsidy at INR58 bn for the fiscal year ending March, while fertiliser subsidy was pegged at INR1.05 trillion (tn) (US$12.84 bn). State oil companies are obligated to buy crude at international prices and sell locally in a price-sensitive market, while private players such as RIL have the flexibility to tap on stronger fuel export markets. India imports about half of its liquefied petroleum gas, generally used as cooking fuel. The price of Saudi contract price, the import benchmark for LPG in India, has increased 303 percent in the past two years, while the retail price in Delhi was increased by 28 percent.

TRS working president and minister KT Rama Rao demanded the Centre to lower the fuel prices and reduce the burden on the people of the country as international crude oil prices declined. He said the BJP government should immediately do away with all types of cesses on petrol and diesel. The industries and municipal administration ministry said if the prices of a barrel of crude oil decreased internationally, the benefit should be passed on to the people. He said the Modi government does not want that to happen and has been increasing excise duties and cesses. Since 2014, the Centre has increased fuel prices many times and put a INR26 tn (US$318 bn) burden on the people in the form of fuel taxes and cesses. The working president said before coming to power in 2014, Modi made hue and cry about rising fuel prices and even accused the then UPA government for its failure to control the prices. The minister said if the Centre lifts the duty levied on fuel, the people would get a relief of around INR30 per litre. The Telangana government has not levied a single rupee of additional tax on fuel since the state’s formation, KTR said.

Karnataka Police are mulling establishing fuel pump stations run by prisoners across the state on lines of Andhra Pradesh, the prison department confirmed. The department has already sent a proposal to open the fuel pump stations in the premises of five state prisons adjacent to the national and state highways. After implementing this project, the department will replicate this in other places. In the first phase, the pumping stations will be opened in Parappana Agrahara Central Prison of Bengaluru, Central Prisons of Mysuru, Ballary, Belagavi and Dharwad. The land of half an acre has already been identified. Shivamogga, Kalaburagi and Vijayapura Central Jails will also have petrol bunks in the later stages. The department wants to utilize the vacant land for commercial purposes. Undivided Andhra Pradesh state was the first to start the stations on the property of prisons run by prisoners. Presently, 26 fuel stations are being run by the prisoners through the department in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states.


Indian state-refiner Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) is re-attempting to charter a ship to load 700,000 barrels of Russia’s Sokol crude oil. The Sokol cargo had been one of two sold by ONGC Videsh, the overseas investment arm of and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to refiners Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and BPCL in March. BPCL has provisionally booked the Russian tanker Yuri Senkevich and is trying to obtain insurance coverage. India recognises cover provided by Russian insurance companies and Indian Register of Shipping (IRClass) provides classification to vessels managed by SCF Dubai. ONGC has a 20 percent stake in the Sakhalin 1 project that produces a Russian grade known as Sokol, which ONGC exports through tenders. India, the world’s third-biggest oil consumer and importer, has not banned Russian oil imports.

RIL, operator of the world’s biggest refining complex, will invest INR750 bn (US$9.38 bn) over 5 years to expand its oil to chemical business. RIL’s two refineries at Jamnagar in western India have the capacity to process about 1.4 million barrels per day of crude. Refiners in India and elsewhere are boosting petrochemicals output to meet rising demand and help hedge against lower margins for conventional fuels as consumption of gasoil and gasoline is set to ease with a global push for clean energy.

Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) said it has formed a joint venture (JV) with its parent company Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and others to build a 9 MMTPA (million metric tonnes per annum) refinery at a cost of INR315.80 bn (US$3.95 bn) in southern Tamil Nadu state. CPCL, in which National Iranian Oil Company has about 15 percent stake, was operating a small refinery at the Cauvery Basin at Nagapattinam, where the new plant will be located. The new refinery will come up after dismantling the existing 1 MMTPA refinery, according to CPCL, and will produce LPG, BS VI quality gasoline, diesel and aviation turbine fuel.


India’s crude oil production fell 3.8 percent in July on lower output from fields operated by ONGC and private sector firms, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas data showed. Production of crude oil, which is refined to produce fuels such as petrol and diesel, fell to 2.45 MT in July from 2.54 million tonnes a year back. The output was lower than the monthly target of 2.59 MT, the data showed. ONGC produced 1.7 percent less oil at 1.63 MT on lower output from western offshore. Fields operated by private firms saw a 12.34 percent decline in production. But the oil production during the first four months of the current fiscal that began on 1 April was only marginally lower at 9.91 MT as opposed to 9.96 MT during April-July 2021. As per the Oil Ministry the declining trend in crude oil production has been reversed. According to the ministry data, ONGC’s oilfields in Gujarat and Assam produced less oil while Vedanta’s Rajasthan block had a lower output Domestically produced crude oil forms just 15 percent of the processing at refineries, the rest being imported oil.

After almost 15 years, OIL’s Khagorijan oil field in eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh started operation. Assam Chief Minister (CM) Himanta Biswa Sarma attended the ceremonial function of resumption of Khagorijan oil field of OIL at Rohmoria, operations of which were suspended since November 2007 due to administrative and environmental issues. According to the CM, four wells were drilled after oil was discovered in the area in November 1998 and production started in December 2004, including Khagorijan located 1.8 km from the Brahmaputra. Due to severe erosion of Brahmaputra river, various local organisations of Khagorijan area obstructed OIL’s operations in that area. After prolonged blockade by the local organisations, the OIL suspended all its operations in November 2007.


The government has hiked the windfall profit tax on the export of diesel to INR13.5 per litre and jet fuel exports to INR9 a litre, besides raising the levy on domestically-produced crude oil in line with the hardening of global prices. At the fourth fortnightly review, the government raised the windfall profit tax on the export of diesel to INR13.5 per litre from INR7 per litre. The tax on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) exports has also been hiked to INR9 from INR2 per litre from 1 September, according to a finance ministry notification issued. Alongside, the tax on domestically-produced crude oil too has been hiked to INR13,300 per tonne from INR13,000 (US$163). India first imposed windfall profit taxes on 1 July, joining a growing number of nations that tax super normal profits of energy companies. But international oil prices have cooled since then, eroding the profit margins of both oil producers and refiners.

Rest of the World

Middle East

­Oil production in the Iraqi region of Kurdistan could almost halve by 2027 if there is no new exploration or major investment in the sector, government documents showed. A steep decline in oil revenue, a lifeline for the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), would compound the economic woes of a region already struggling financially within an unstable Iraq. According to the documents, the Kurdistan Region in Iraq’s (KRI) oil output could rise to 580,000 barrels per day (bpd) in five year’s time under a scenario in which investment is fully optimised, leaving 530,000 bpd available for export. But without new investment, the semi-autonomous region might only have 240,000 bpd available to export as older wells become depleted, the documents, which have not previously been reported, show.


Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) stuck to its forecasts for robust global oil demand growth in 2022 and 2023 citing signs that major economies were faring better than expected despite headwinds such as surging inflation. Oil demand will increase by 3.1 million bpd in 2022 and by 2.7 million bpd in 2023, unchanged from last month, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said. Oil use has rebounded from the lows of the pandemic, although high prices and Chinese coronavirus outbreaks have trimmed 2022 projections. The downgrades, in OPEC’s view, have delayed a recovery in oil use to above 2019 levels until 2023, it said. Oil prices traded lower after the OPEC report was released, slipping below US$94 a barrel. OPEC and allies including Russia, known as OPEC+, have this year been ramping up oil output as they look to unwind record cuts put in place in 2020 after the pandemic slashed demand.

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia could slash October prices for most crude grades it sells to Asia after a plunge in spot premiums as tepid fuel demand and increasing arbitrage cargoes put pressure on oil prices in the region. State oil giant Saudi Aramco could cut the official selling price (OSP) for its flagship Arab Light crude by about US$4.50 a barrel in October, according to five refining sources surveyed. Spot premiums for regional benchmarks Dubai, Oman and Murban plummeted in August as fears over a global recession and the narrowing spread between Dubai- and Brent-linked grades dented demand for Middle Eastern crude oil. Despite expectations of recovering demand from India and Indonesia when the monsoon season passes in late September, fuel consumption in China, the world’s top oil importer, could still be gloomy as the country continues to grapple with COVID-19 restrictions.

North and South America

­Oil output in the Permian in Texas and New Mexico, the biggest US shale oil basin, is due to rise 66,000 bpd to a record 5.413 million bpd in October, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said. Total output in the major US shale oil basins will rise 132,000 bpd to 9.115 million bpd in October, the highest since March 2020, the EIA projected. In the Bakken in North Dakota and Montana, the EIA forecast oil output will rise 21,000 bpd to 1.204 million bpd in October, the most since November 2020. In the Eagle Ford in South Texas, output will rise 26,000 bpd to 1.250 million bpd in October, its highest since April 2020.

US emergency crude oil stocks fell 8.4 million barrels to 434.1 million barrels, their lowest since October 1984, according to US Department of Energy (DOE) data. President Joe Biden in March set a plan to release 1 million barrels per day over six months from the SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) to tackle high US fuel prices, which have contributed to soaring inflation. The SPR stocks also have declined due to sales from congressional mandates and Biden’s price initiative. The oil is sold to qualified oil companies via online auctions, and prices set using a five-day average bracketing the date of delivery.

Ecuador’s top electoral court has opened up a route for a referendum to ban oil drilling in the Yasuni National Park, an environmental group said, a move which could disrupt government plans to boost its crude production. Electoral authorities had repeatedly denied calls for a vote on whether oil in the Yasuni reserve, one of the planet’s most species-diverse rainforests, should be kept underground indefinitely. Former President Rafael Correa had in 2007 proposed to leave the oil reserves untouched if wealthy countries contributed US$3.6 bn dollars to offset lost revenue, but later abandoned the plan due to lack of international support. The current administration of conservative ex-banker President Guillermo Lasso now hopes to more than double the country’s oil output to one million barrels per day – but is facing opposition from environmental and indigenous groups.

US crude and fuel inventories fell, the EIA­ said, while weakening gasoline consumption fanned concerns about slowing demand. Crude inventories fell by 3.3 million barrels in the week to 19 August to 421.7 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a poll for a 933,000-barrel drop. The inventory decline would have been larger if not for another big release of barrels from US SPR. US released more than 8 million barrels from the SPR, offsetting a drop in production and a modest uptick in refining activity. After rebounding, overall US gasoline demand sunk in the most recent period, leaving the four-week average of daily gasoline product supplied 7 percent below the year-earlier period. Analysts are concerned by weak demand for fuels, saying it augurs for a notable slowdown in economic activity. Crude production slipped 100,000 bpd to 12 million bpd, data showed.

Venezuela’s state oil and gas company PDVSA has restarted gasoline production at the country’s second largest refinery after repairing a breakdown. The Cardon refinery’s naphtha reformer, with a capacity of 45,000 barrels of oil per day, produces high-octane components for gasoline and is key to the country’s gasoline supply. The reformer suspended production at the end of June to undergo maintenance that extended beyond the 21 days originally scheduled.

US Oil reserves held by 50 large companies rose by 13 percent over the 5 years ended in December, according to an Ernst & Young report, with mergers and acquisitions contributing most of the recent gain. Oil reserve estimates, which signal the direction of crude output, climbed to 31.8 billion barrels at the end of last year after plummeting in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic forced energy companies to curtail activity. US reserves were still lower than 2019 levels of 32.5 billion barrels, according to the analysis, which used estimates from 50 publicly traded companies holding the largest US oil and gas reserves. The upswing in reserves last year was primarily due to larger independent oil and gas companies buying private energy companies and acquiring other reserves. The studied group of companies spent US$94 bn to acquire proved and unproved properties.

Asia Pacific

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is considering joining India and China in buying Russian oil to offset increasing pressure of rising energy costs. Widodo hiked subsidised fuel prices by 30 percent and said that the price hike was his “last option” due to fiscal pressures, sparking protests across the nation of 270 million people. Any move to purchase Russian crude at prices above the cap agreed by G7 countries could subject Indonesia to US sanctions. In August, Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno said that Indonesia had been offered Russian crude at a 30 percent discount. Following this, the country’s state-owned oil company, Pertamina said it was reviewing the risks of buying Russian oil.

The Philippines is open to new talks with China on oil and gas exploration, the Southeast Asian country’s foreign ministry said. A deal with China or any other country on joint oil and gas exploration, however, should comply with Philippine laws, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said. Talks over joint energy exploration between Manila and Beijing in the South China Sea had been terminated, Manalo said. A 2016 international arbitration ruling made clear the Philippines had sovereign rights to exploit energy reserves inside its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. But China, which claims about 90 percent of the South China Sea as its territory, has refused to recognise that decision.

Military-ruled Myanmar plans to import Russian gasoline and fuel oil to ease supply concerns and rising prices, the latest developing country to do so amid a global energy crisis. Russia is seeking new customers for its energy in the region as its biggest export destination, Europe, will impose an embargo on Russian oil in phases later this year. Fuel oil shipments are due to start arriving from September. In addition to political turmoil and civil unrest, Myanmar has been hit hard by high fuel prices and power cuts, prompting its military leadership to turn to imports of fuel oil that can be used in power plants. Petrol prices have surged about 350 percent since the coup in February last year to 2,300-2,700 kyat (US$1) per litre. In the past week, petrol stations have shut down in various parts of the country because of shortages.

Australia’s Santos Limited said it will move ahead with developing a US$2.6 bn Alaskan oil project in a surprise decision that sent the energy producer’s shares lower despite it posting a record first-half profit. The company decided to go ahead with the Pikka project in Alaska after failing to sell down its stake and also flagged it would sell a smaller than expected stake in its prized PNG LNG asset in Papua New Guinea. That meant it would fall short of a target set in February to reap up to US$3 bn from asset sales this year. Santos indefinitely delayed approval for its Dorado oil and gas project in Australia due to rising costs, shipyard backlogs, stressed contractors and reworking of project plans.


A Peruvian judge admitted a US$4.5 bn lawsuit against Spanish oil firm Repsol SA, eight months after an underwater oil pipeline owned by the company caused a spill of over 10,000 barrels into the Pacific Ocean. The civil lawsuit seeking US$3 bn for environmental damage and US$1.5 bn for damages to locals and consumers was filed by Peru’s consumer protection agency Indecopi. The spill took place in January at Repsol’s La Pampilla refinery, located an hour north of capital Lima. Repsol initially blamed the incident on anomalous waves triggered by an underwater volcanic eruption near the island of Tonga, but has since shifted blame to an oil tanker.

News Highlights: 14 – 20 September 2022

National: Oil

India may cut cess on ATF, diesel export in fifth revision of windfall tax

16 September: India is likely to issue a notification on revised windfall gains tax, where New Delhi is expected to lower a raft of duties and cess amid a decline in global crude oil prices. India may cut cess on domestic crude production. New Delhi may also lower duty on export of ATF and diesel. Overseas shipment of petrol will likely continue to be exempted from windfall tax. This will be the fifth revision of windfall tax since it’s implementation on 1 July. The government has maintained that the levy was introduced in view of the windfall gains made by the domestic crude producers and refiners due to high global crude and product prices. The government had said it will review the windfall levy on locally produced crude oil every fortnight. The levy was expected to compensate for the reduction in the excise duty on petrol and diesel to provide relief to consumers. But the reduction in the windfall cess from the initial levels is expected to reduce the realisation for the government. On 1 September, the government had increased the windfall tax on domestic crude oil to INR13,300 per tonne from earlier INR13,000 per tonne. It had also revised the cess on export of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to INR9 per litre from INR2 per litre and increased additional excise duty on export of diesel has been increased from to INR12 per litre from INR6 per litre.

Achieving target of 20 percent ethanol blending in petrol by 2025 to save INR1k bn forex: Shah

15 September: If India achieves the target of blending 20 percent ethanol with petrol by 2025, it will save around INR1k bn of foreign exchange, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said. In June 2021, the Narendra Modi government had set the target of achieving 10 percent ethanol blending in petrol by November 2022, which was achieved five months in advance, he said after laying the foundation stone for Kribhco’s bioethanol plant at Hazira on the outskirts of Surat city. He said that biofuels are a good alternative to reduce the country’s dependence on crude oil imports, which has increased from 172 MMT (million metric tonnes) in 2011-12 to 212 MMT in 2021-22. He said that the Modi government took several policy decisions to encourage ethanol production to achieve the target of 20 percent blending.

National: Gas

After Russian flows dry up, India pays up to double price for gas

19 September: India purchased some of the nation’s most expensive LNG (liquefied natural gas) shipments ever after vital Russian deliveries were canceled. GAIL (India) Limited bought several LNG cargoes for delivery between October and November at more than double the price it paid around this time last year. The New Delhi-based company is struggling to replace supply from the former trading arm of Gazprom PJSC, which was nationalized by Germany earlier this year and is paying contractual fines rather than delivering fuel. GAIL bought three LNG shipments for October to November delivery above US$40 per million British thermal units, among the most expensive cargoes ever for delivery to India, according to traders.

ONGC in favour of scrapping windfall tax, wants government to fix floor price for gas at US$10

18 September. India’s top oil and gas producer ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) wants the government to scrap windfall profit tax on domestically produced crude oil and instead use the dividend route to tap into bumper earnings resulting from surge in global energy prices. The company has also favoured a floor price for natural gas at US$10 per million British thermal unit- the current government-dictated rate- to help bring deposits in challenging areas to production. ONGC management during discussions with government officials stated that levying windfall profit tax on domestic oil producers, while at the same time reaping rich savings from buying discounted oil from Russia was unfair.

National: Coal

Government imports 20 MT coal to avert power crisis this festive season

15 September: To ensure sufficient coal supply during the coming festival season, the Union government has already imported 20 million tonnes (MT) of coal so far, informed Union Power Secretary Alok Kumar said. Recalling last year’s episode of coal shortage during the festive season, the power secretary assured that India will not face any power crisis due to coal shortage this time. Last year’s coal shortage in thermal power plants forced the government to take instant measures to meet the demand and manage the crisis in 2021. He said that India will import coal whenever needed. He also hinted at a backup plan by the government to deal with any unforeseen situation.

Government working to increase domestic coking coal output: Steel secretary

15 September: The government is working to increase the domestic production of coking coal as the country aims to have a steel making capacity of 300 million tonnes (MT) by 2030-31. Coking coal is a key input in steel making and the country remains dependent on imports to meet 85 percent of its coking coal needs. The government has taken an important decision by removing the duty on coking coal to zero, Steel Secretary Sanjay Kumar Singh said. India imported 57 MT of coking coal in FY22 to produce 120 MT crude steel.

1,652 illegal coal transportation cases registered in Meghalaya: CM

15 September: Meghalaya Chief Minister (CM) Conrad K Sangma said 1,652 cases related to illegal transportation of coal have been registered in the state. He said as many as 109 cases have also been registered against illegal mining and extraction of coal, of which chargesheets have been submitted in 108 cases and 103 people have been convicted.

India narrows thermal coal imports gap with top buyer China as demand rises

14 September: India is fast catching up with China in its thermal coal imports, as the world’s two biggest overseas buyers of the power generation fuel adjust purchases to align them with the varying trajectories of their economic growth. India’s thermal coal imports are expected to rise 7 percent on year to 158 million in 2022, and a further 3 percent to 163 million tonnes (MT) in 2023, consultancy Wood Mackenzie said. Indian thermal coal imports grew about 12 percent in the eight months ended August 2022 to 114.2 MT, according to Indian consultancy Coalmint. China’s overseas purchases of the fuel resource in the first seven months of 2022 fell 26 percent from a year earlier to 106.36 MT, government data showed. Analysts at Indian consultancies CRISIL and ICRA expect India’s coal imports for the year ended March 2023 to rise 16 percent-20 percent. Russia displaced the United States to become India’s fourth largest supplier of seaborne coal in 2022. The share of Russian supplies of thermal coal to China also increased, according to government data. India’s thermal coal imports have risen 28 percent in the six months since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, Coalmint data showed. Indonesian supplies to India have risen 43.6 percent in 2022, at the expense of supplies from Australia, which fell 28.5 percent, and South African supplies, which declined by a fifth.

National: Power

Mizoram to switch to smart prepaid power meters from December

20 September: Mizoram will introduce prepaid smart power meters from December as a part of the Centre’s Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme (RDSS). The state power department has already started the process to replace old post-paid power meters with prepaid smart meters to improve operational efficiencies and financial sustainability. The department has received over INR1.7 bn from the Centre for the installation of prepaid smart meters, which would be used by all consumers across the state from December. The government has urged consumers to clear their dues and adjust their contracted load based on their total consumption during peak hour. Prepaid smart meters will have to be kept in open space so that they get signal. Once the prepaid system is in place, the task of disconnecting and reconnecting will be performed from the control centres, and consumers will be able to recharge based on their needs. The prepaid system will reduce the manpower required for billing, and is expected to reduce billing errors and power loss, and increase revenue.

Punjab government extends deadline of VDS for enhancing load on tube wells till 23 October

20 September: In a major relief to farmers desirous of enhancing the electricity load of their tube-wells, the Punjab government led by Chief Minister (CM) Bhagwant Mann has extended the date of the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) for enhancing load till 23 October. This is for the second time, that the Punjab Government has extended the deadline, in view of the keen interest shown by the farmers. Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) said that the VDS scheme was launched on 10 June for 45 days (till 24 July) by slashing fees for load enhancement on tube wells from existing INR4750 to INR2500 per BHP.

Power tariff in Tamil Nadu cheaper compared to other states: Electricity Minister

15 September: Electricity Minister V Senthil Balaji justified the latest hike in power tariffs claiming that the charges are still cheaper in Tamil Nadu compared to other states. He said that the tariffs for the MSME sector had been increased marginally at 23 percent compared to the 61 percent hike for the sector during the previous AIADMK rule. He said the introduction of peak hour charges to LT connections would not have a major impact and added that 14 states had already levied peak-hour charges for LT consumers. The minister said they could achieve the minimal impact on the general public even after the tariff revision with an additional release of INR40 bn as subsidy from the state government apart from INR96 bn released last year. He said that conversion of overhead lines to underground cables in the entire Greater Chennai areas would be completed in a year.

Delhi residents to get power subsidy only if they opt for it, applications open: CM

14 September: Delhiites can avail the free electricity scheme from October only if they opt for it, Chief Minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal announced. He said people can now give a missed call or send a WhatsApp message on 7011311111 to avail the free electricity scheme. With this move, the option to get Delhi government’s power subsidy will no longer be available by default and every year, power consumers will be given an option to continue with power subsidy or not. At present, those whose power consumption is less than 200 units do not have to pay any electricity charges. Those whose consumption is up to 400 units get a 50 percent subsidy. He clarified that the free electricity scheme will continue for those who demand and apply for it. He said both physical and electronic methods will be available for people to apply for subsidy. The government had decided a few months earlier that subsidy will be given to those only who will demand and apply for it. Around 90 percent of power consumers in the national capital pay their electricity bills online. In the physical method, consumers can fill up a form attached with their power bill and submit it at designated collection centres and the subsidy will continue from 1 October, the chief minister said. Those consumers who have got their phone numbers registered for bill payment will be sent messages for applying to get subsidy. The system has been improved so that it does not crash due to a rush of applicants and the government is planning ways like holding camps to inform people about the new arrangement, he said. Under the free electricity scheme of AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) government, domestic consumers in Delhi using up to 200 units of power per month are given 100 percent subsidy. Those consuming up to 400 units are provided 50 percent or up to INR800 as subsidy.

National: Non-Fossil Fuels/ Climate Change Trends

Adani Green commissions 325 MW wind power project in Dhar district of MP

19 September: Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL) has commissioned a 325 megawatt (MW) wind energy plant in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh (MP). With the commissioning of this plant, its operational generation capacity has increased to 6.1 gigawatt (GW), AGEL said. The plant has two 25-year Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), one for 274.4 MW energy and another for 50 MW power, at a tariff of INR2.83 per kwh (kilowatt hour). AGEL has a total of 20.4 GW of renewable energy portfolio which includes the operational ones, under-construction, awarded and assets under acquisition catering to investment-grade counterparties.

Kolkata first Indian city to join global 72 on fossil fuel vow

15 September: Kolkata has become the first Indian city to join the network of 72 global cities with its endorsement of a ‘fossil fuel-free and climate-resilient future’ through a set of short-term and long-term goals. Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim signed the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty propagated by Climate Action Network of South Asia (CANSA) to join the league of cities attempting to dramatically reduce carbon emission. By signing the treaty, Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) requires to phase out fossil fuels by applying equity principles, paving the path for a smooth energy transition. Kolkata joins Paris, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Lima and 60 other civic bodies and become the largest city to support the international initiative to phase out oil, gas, and coal production responsible for more than 80 percent of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions in the last decade.

Tata Power to develop 4 MWp solar project at Tata Motors’ Pune plant

14 September: Tata Power said that it has inked a pact to develop a 4 MWp (megawatt peak) solar project at Tata Motors’ Pune plant. The installation is collectively expected to generate 5.8 million units of electricity, potentially mitigating over 10 lakh tonnes of carbon emission. This is equivalent to planting over 16 lakh teak trees over a lifetime. Until FY22, Tata Motors at its Pune plant, including at its passenger and commercial vehicle manufacturing facilities, deployed 15 MWp solar project, generating 21 million kWh (kilowatt hour) of renewable electricity. Over the next few years, the company plans to expand the solar capacity of its Pune plant to meet the growing demand for renewable energy. In FY22, across all its plants in India, the company generated 92.39 million kWh of renewable electricity for its manufacturing operations, which is 19.4 percent of the total power consumption.

International: Oil

Jordan resumes crude oil imports from Iraq after weeks-long halt

20 September: Jordan has resumed crude oil imports from Iraq after the Iraqi side fixed the logistical problems that suspended the supply for weeks, said Jordan’s energy ministry. Trucks have started loading the crude oil from the oil fields in Kirkuk governorate in northern Iraq, Jordan’s Minister of Energy Saleh Kharabsheh said.  The ministry said that Jordan imported about 2.525 million barrels of oil from Iraq between September 2021 and July 2022. Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2021, Jordan imports around 10,000 barrels per day from Iraq, based on the monthly average price of Brent crude oil minus US$16 per barrel to cover the difference in quality and transportation costs. The 10,000 barrels cover around 7 percent of Jordan’s daily needs, according to the ministry.

US senators want secondary sanctions on Russian oil

20 September: Democratic and Republican senators proposed that US (United States) President Joe Biden’s administration use secondary sanctions on international banks to strengthen a price cap G7 countries plan to impose on Russian oil over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The Biden administration has been reluctant to impose secondary sanctions, concerned they could complicate relations with importers of Russia oil like China and India. The US Treasury has said that anyone who falsifies documentation or otherwise hides the origin or price of Russian oil would face consequences under the domestic law of jurisdictions implementing the price cap. The Group of Seven announced the price cap plan to limit Russia’s lucrative oil export revenue in the wake of the invasion. Several countries have banned imports of Russian crude and fuel, but Moscow has managed to maintain its revenues through increased crude sales to Asia.

Colombian oil sector urges government to drop planned export tax

15 September: Colombia’s new government must drop taxes on oil exports from a proposed tax reform and scrap plans to stop energy companies from offsetting taxes with royalty payments, in favor of surcharges based on production. Colombia’s new leftist President Gustavo Petro has proposed a tax reform bill to lawmakers which would raise some 25 trillion pesos (US$5.7 billion) in 2023, before eventually adding some US$11.5 billion annually to government coffers, in an effort to increase revenue for social programs. The reform would levy a 10 percent tax on oil exports once the price exceeds US$48 per barrel. Oil prices are expected to average US$104 per barrel this year, according to the Colombian Petroleum Association (ACP), which represents private producers, providing the state with an extra 24 trillion pesos in 2022. Under the ACP’s proposal, companies would see an additional percentage point placed on their regular tax rate once oil hits US$75 per barrel, rising to two and three percentage points, respectively, if average prices exceed US$85 or US$95 per barrel.

China lockdowns weigh on global oil demand: IEA

14 September: China’s repeated Covid lockdowns and a slowdown in developed economies are weighing on the growth of global oil demand this year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. The deceleration of demand for crude is partly offset by a switch from gas to oil for power generation, as soaring gas prices have prompted countries to change fuels, the IEA said. Global oil demand is now expected to grow by 2 million barrels per day (bpd) this year, slightly down from the previous forecast of 2.1 mn bpd. Total demand is projected to reach 99.7 mn bpd in 2022 before returning to pre-Covid levels next year, at 101.8 mn bpd, if China reopens to the world, the IEA said. China is the world’s biggest importer of crude, so a slower economic activity there affects global demand for the fossil fuel. Meanwhile, Russian oil production and exports “have proved resilient”, with August levels only 400,000-450,000 bpd under pre-war levels, the IEA said, despite Western sanctions against the country over the Ukraine conflict.

Ecuador’s Petroecuador signs agreement with Petrochina to improve crude oil delivery

14 September: Ecuador’s state oil company Petroecuador said it has reached an agreement with Chinese oil company Petrochina on some deliveries of crude oil, part of a renegotiation of long-term contracts between the two companies. With the agreement, 27 shipments of Ecuadorean crude for 2022 and 2023 will be liberated for sale, while Petroecuador will deliver another 80 at the spot market price to the Chinese firm. Petroecuador began negotiations with the Chinese oil firm last April in order to improve the price formula for Ecuadorean crude and the extension of the delivery schedule for shipments, which was set to expire in 2024. The Ecuadorean oil company signed long-term crude sales agreements with several Asian companies during former President Rafael Correa’s government, allowing the Andean country to access credits with Chinese banks. The complementary agreements are related to the release of 27 cargoes for 2022 and 2023. Petroecuador did not specify the equivalent of the cargoes in barrels of oil.

International: Gas

Bulgaria tenders for gas supplies to ride out energy crisis

20 September: Bulgaria’s state gas company, Bulgargaz, is launching three tenders for liquefied natural gas (LNG) to avoid winter shortages and ensure long-term energy security, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Denitsa Zlateva said. The Balkan country was almost totally reliant on Russian gas before Moscow cut deliveries in August and is now struggling to secure sufficient supplies at affordable prices for businesses in the European Union’s poorest member state. Bulgaria is also considering opening tenders for pipeline gas from neighbouring Turkey, interim Energy Minister Rossen Hristov said. Bulgaria has asked Gazprom to deliver what was due under its contract in resheduled shipments until the end of the heating season next spring. Bulgargaz will open a tender for LNG deliveries for the last two months of the year, Zlateva said. Bulgargaz will seek about 142 million cubic meters (mcm) of gas for November and about 190 mcm for December. The company will also seek offers for supplies of LNG throughout 2023 for a total of 1.5 billion of cubic meters (bcm) and will launch a six-month process for LNG deliveries of 1 bcm a year from 2024 through 2034. Bulgaria consumes about 3 bcm of gas a year. It receives about 1 bcm a year from Azerbaijan under a long-term contract.

Israeli PM vows to begin production in contested gas field

20 September: Israel’s Prime Minister (PM) Yair Lapid vowed to begin production at a contested Mediterranean natural gas field “as soon as it is possible,” threatening to raise tensions with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group. Lapid said it is “both possible and necessary” to reach an agreement with Lebanon, which he said would benefit both countries and “strengthen regional stability.” But he said that production from the Karish gas field is not connected to the negotiations and “will commence without delay, as soon as it is possible.”

International: Coal

China’s August coal imports from Russia, Indonesia soar as heatwave spurs power use

20 September: China’s coal imports from Russia rose in August, exceeding last month’s level and hitting the highest in at least five years, as power utilities in the world’s biggest coal consumer sought overseas supplies to meet soaring demand in extreme hot weather. Arrivals of Russian coal last month reached 8.54 million tonnes (MT), up from the previous peak of 7.42 million tonnes in July and 57 percent higher than in the same period last year, data from the General Administration of Customs showed. Imports from Russia have surged in recent months as Europe suspended purchasing from the country after it sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine, forcing Russian coal to be traded at a steep discount. Prices for Russian coal have climbed as both China and India stepped up buying, traders said, but were still cheaper than the domestic coal of same quality. Russian thermal coal at 5,500 kcal on delivery basis to China was assessed at about US$155 a tonne in late August, up from about US$150 a tonne a month earlier.

International: Power

South African power cuts grow, total blackout not imminentRuyter

18 September: South African power utility Eskom implemented Stage 6 power cuts early, its worst level touched for the second time this year although a “total blackout” was not imminent, its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Andre de Ruyter said. The last time Eskom resorted to Stage 6, which means at least six hours without power a day for most South Africans, was in June. It had previously done so during a power crisis in December 2019.  The cash-strapped utility has been struggling to keep the lights on in Africa’s most industrialised economy as regular power cuts curb economic growth and fuels public frustration as Eskom seeks a new 32 percent tariff hike. Eskom, which gets most of its electricity from ageing coal-fired power plants prone to breakdowns, plans to cut about 6,000 megawatt (MW) of power in a staggered manner to prevent a catastrophic collapse of the national electricity grid. Currently there were unplanned load losses of 15,630 MW, about a third of Eskom’s total nominal capacity of just over 45,000 MW. The utility earlier appealed to the public to help conserve electricity as it moved to its highest level of power cuts, only the third time since Eskom started what it calls “loadshedding” following a chronic power crisis that started more than a decade ago. After an urgent board meeting, Eskom intends going to the market to procure an extra 1,000 MW from independent power producers, although it was unclear when this would become available, Ruyter said.

International: Non-Fossil Fuels/ Climate Change Trends

Indonesia unveils new regulation to boost renewable energy use

16 September: Indonesia has issued a regulation to encourage renewable energy use in one of the world’s biggest carbon emitters, including a plan to retire some coal plants early, a presidential decree said. The world’s largest exporter of coal aims to increase the proportion of renewables in its energy mix to 23 percent by 2025, but has only reached around 12 percent so far. Coal currently powers around 60 percent of the country’s electricity needs. Indonesia set a goal last year to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060 and pledged alongside dozens of other countries to phase down coal use to help limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The government set a new pricing system for each type of renewable energy source – geothermal, hydro power, and solar power – to encourage investment. Developers previously had to go through a lengthy negotiation process with the state utility company to reach a pricing agreement. To boost renewable energy investment, government will also give fiscal incentives including financing facilities and ease of licensing in forest areas for renewable energy development. International Energy Agency (IEA) said Indonesia needs to ensure policy reforms including introducing transparent and competitive tariffs and predictable project pipelines to pave the way for renewable power and to reduce reliance on coal.

EU Parliament backs higher targets on renewables and energy savings

14 September: European Union (EU) lawmakers voted to raise the bloc’s targets to expand renewable power and save energy, backing proposals that had been made more ambitious in a bid to quickly end Europe’s reliance on Russian gas. The Parliament backed a target to get 45 percent of EU energy from renewable sources by 2030, compared with 22 percent in 2020. Lawmakers also backed rules that would reduce by 2030 the share of wood-fuelled energy counted towards the EU’s renewable energy targets. EU lawmakers also backed a proposal to raise the bloc’s target for primary and final energy savings to 14.5 percent by 2030 compared with expected energy use, and set binding contributions for every country. The two proposals are central to a package of EU policies currently being negotiated, which aims to deliver the bloc’s climate change target to slash net emissions 55 percent by 2030, from 1990 levels.

This is a weekly publication of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). It covers current national and international information on energy categorised systematically to add value. The year 2022 is the nineteenth continuous year of publication of the newsletter. The newsletter is registered with the Registrar of News Paper for India under No. DELENG / 2004 / 13485.

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