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Felicity Bradstock

Felicity Bradstock

Felicity Bradstock is a freelance writer specialising in Energy and Finance. She has a Master’s in International Development from the University of Birmingham, UK.

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A New Force Is Emerging In Asian Energy Markets

With Asia expected to contribute around 90 percent of the world’s growing oil demand over the next five years, we are seeing more and more regional partnerships being established. India and Malaysia are the latest of many forging links to ensure the future of energy in Southeast Asia.  Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas is planning to partner with Indian Oil Corp. (IOC), to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and expand fuel retailing and gas distribution, expanding its existing role as an LPG exporter to India. The company also hopes to help shift India’s oil refining industry beyond predominantly national players. The joint venture, of which each state company owns 50 percent, will be called IndianOil Petronas Private Ltd., or IPP. IPP expects to retail transport fuels including diesel and gasoline, as well as managing city gas supply.

At present, national refiners dominate the market, with international oil majors, such as Royal Dutch Shell, also playing a lesser role in India’s retail market. The entry of Petronas into the market will spur greater competition with national players as India strives to enhance its regional energy ties. 

IOC is planning to invest $13.49 billion over the next two to five years to raise its refining capacity by 25 million tonnes a year, according to the company’s chairman, Shrikant Madhav Vaidya. The strategy was presented at IOC’s annual meeting of shareholders last Friday. 

At present, IOC, the country’s biggest refiner, operates 11 refineries, converting crude oil into 81.2 million tonnes of fuel. The company now plans to increase the capacity of several of its refineries including, Koyali in Gujarat, Panipat in Haryana, and the Guwahati and Barauni refineries.

While India’s oil demand decreased for the first time in over a decade in 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the outlook for 2021 is hopeful, as restrictions ease and energy demand looks set to surpass pre-pandemic levels. In addition, while countries across Europe and North America look to gradually move away from fossil fuels, India acknowledges its reliance on oil and gas, with plans to continue developing the industry as long as the need remains. 

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Related: Oil Glut In Asia Worsens As India’s population continues to grow and the economy expands to provide greater personal income, India's oil product demand growth could see an average of over 200,000 bpd in the coming years. With India’s refining capacity increasing from 250 million MT per year to as much as 300 million MT by 2025 and 445 million MT by 2030.

That is not to completely overlook the role of alternative energy production in the Indian market. Petronas not only hopes to take a stake in India’s ever-expanding oil industry but also wants to establish its reputation as a clean energy developer. IOC has already announced plans to expand operations to include petrochemicals, hydrogen, and electric mobility. Establishing regional partnerships with companies experienced in clean energy projects will help IOC to develop more rapidly in this field.  

Petronas already operates within India’s renewable energy space having acquired Amplus Energy Solutions in 2019, a solar energy company providing rooftop and ground-mounted solar panels across India, calling the operations M+ by Petronas. Petronas now has experience in the solar energy markets of Malaysia, India, and Dubai, currently operating 1 GW of solar power in India alone. 

IOC stated that "Indian Oil is charting its course as a future-ready global energy giant and we are working on a range of scalable alternative energy options to realise the vision." Vaidya also highlighted the company’s interest in developing in the areas of CNG and LNG fuels for vehicles, hydrogen-spiked CNG for long-haul buses, biofuels, hydrogen, and e-mobility solutions. 

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The company has already established other regional partnerships in the area of renewable energy, working with Israeli company Phinergy in the production of Aluminium-Air batteries for India’s electric vehicle (EV) market. 

Related: The EU’s Carbon Border Tax Could Deal A Devastating Blow To Russia’s Economy

In July, IOC also announced plans to establish India’s first green hydrogen plant at the 160,000 bpd Mathura refinery in north India. The plant will use wind power for its hydrogen production, developing upon the government’s goal to reduce carbon emissions in line with international expectations. 

However, oil and gas will continue to be the leading energy sources for most Indian households and businesses over the next decade, with renewables playing a secondary role in the short term. 

Teaming up with regional players to develop the country’s oil and gas industry and increase competition, while also developing India’s long-term goal to increase the country’s clean energy capacity, bringing together local and foreign expertise, will not only see the increasing demand for traditional energy being met but will also help to develop India’s reputation as a major international energy force over the next decade. 

By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com

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