Economy

Gadkari blames dependence on oil imports for ‘economic crisis’

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on October 04, 2018 Published on October 04, 2018

(from left) Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport, Highways, Shipping, Water Resources and River Development, P Raghavendra Rao, Secretary, Chemicals and Petrochemicals, and Nikhil Meswan, Executive Director, Reliance Industries, at a FICCI event in Mumbai on Thursday   -  Paul Noronha

Flays OPEC for raising crude oil prices

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has blamed India’s dependence on oil imports for the “economic crisis” faced by the country and flayed the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for raising crude oil prices by “taking advantage of the situation”.

“The way in which OPEC countries are increasing the (crude oil) rates and taking advantage of the economic situation, it is time for the country and the world to find alternative options,” Gadkari, who holds the portfolio of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, said at India Chem 2018 on Thursday.

Stating that ethanol was the future, Gadkari said as transport minister it was his “mission” to see the use of ethanol, methanol, bio-diesel and bio-compressed natural gas as transportation fuels.

“That is why we have auto-rickshaws, buses, bikes and cars that are running today on power or on ethanol. Now, this is the time for the country to find out a solution for import substitute. The OPEC countries want to increase the rate of their crude oil and because of this one day they will face the problem that there will be no market for crude oil. We are speedily working on the situation that today we have electric cars and bikes, autos and buses and now my department has taken a decision to start a pilot project in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune and Guwahati to run buses on methanol,” Gadkari said in the presence of Yousef Al-Benyan, Vice-Chairman and CEO of Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), one of the world’s top petrochemicals manufacturers, owned by the Saudi Arabian government. Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest producer of oil and a member of OPEC.

Gadkari outlined the steps taken by the Narendra Modi government to increase production and use of bio-fuels such as ethanol, methanol and other alternative fuels. These include making ethanol from molasses and processing of sugar, raising the production of molasses from sugar from 4 per cent to 6 per cent and conversion of molasses into ethanol, making ethanol from sugarcane, corn, cotton straw, rice straw, bagasse and municipal waste.

So, we have already added five per cent of ethanol to petrol but we can add it up to 22 per cent. In Nagpur, 35 AC buses of Scania are running on 100 per cent bio-ethanol, Gadkari said.

India also has the technology to make methanol from coal.

China makes methanol at ₹16 a litre. In Mumbai, RCF is ready to give it at ₹22 per litre, ethanol price is ₹49 a litre. Whereas, diesel price is ₹68 a litre and petrol is ₹85 a litre. “What is the need to use diesel and petrol. It is time for the country to go for alternative fuels such as ethanol, methanol, bio-diesel and bio-CNG and electric. It is also a great thing for the country that the Indian Petroleum Institute in Dehradun has successfully conducted an experiment on producing bio-aviation fuel from Jatropha oil. We have successfully experimented the use of 25 per cent of bio aviation fuel in aviation turbine fuel (ATF) on a SpiceJet flight from Dehradun to Delhi,” the Minister said.

“Engine maker Bombardier has approved use of 100 per cent bio aviation fuel for flying. Then, why do we need to import ATF for ₹30,000 crore when bio aviation fuel is available at ₹50-52 a litre at the same calorific value. This is a million-dollar question on our minds,” he stated.

The new initiatives are very important for the country because they are import substitute, cost effective, pollution-free and indigenous.

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Published on October 04, 2018
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