Oil and Gas Sector – HELP, Open Acreage Policy, etc.

Significance of crude oil crossing $60 a barrel


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Crude oil prices dynamics

Mains level: India's oil import bill

The price of Brent crude crossed the $60 per barrel mark after over a year on the back of oil-producing countries maintaining production cuts due to lockdowns.

What is Crude Oil?

  • Petroleum also known as crude oil and oil is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth’s surface.
  • It is commonly refined into various types of fuels.
  • Components of petroleum are separated using a technique called fractional distillation, i.e. separation of a liquid mixture into fractions differing in boiling point by means of distillation, typically using a fractionating column.
  • It consists of naturally occurring hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and may contain miscellaneous organic compounds.
  • The name petroleum covers both naturally occurring unprocessed crude oil and petroleum products that are made up of refined crude oil.

Why has the price of crude oil risen sharply?

  • Major oil-producing countries had cut oil production last year amid a sharp fall in demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • However oil-producing countries have continued to limit production despite an increase in prices with Saud Arabia cutting its own oil production by 1 million barrels per day to strengthen crude oil prices.
  • Expectations of strong improvements in demand with the global rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine have also put upward pressure on crude oil prices according to experts.

How will this impact India?

  • The rise in the price of Brent crude will lead to an increase in India’s import bill.
  • India imports of 80 per cent of its crude oil requirements and the average price of Indian basket of crude oil has already risen to $54.8 barrel for January.
  • The upward move in crude prices will also put upward pressure on petrol and diesel prices across the country which is already at all-time highs.

Signs of no remedy

  • The government had hiked central taxes on petrol and diesel by Rs 13 per litre and Rs 11 per litre in 2020 to boost revenues amid lower economic activity.
  • The increase in taxes had prevented consumers from getting the benefit of low fuel prices as international prices crashed during the first quarter of last fiscal.

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