Manmohan, Moily say bold decisions a must in oil sector

Virtually confirming reports that the prices of domestic cooking gas, diesel, and other petroleum-based products will soon be raised by a large amount, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday called for resolute efforts to bridge the gap between energy imports and domestic production to fuel India's economic growth.

Petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily, also addressing the Petrotech 2014 conference in Noida near Delhi, stressed the need for staying the course with bold decisions (on pricing) even in the face of criticism.

Inaugurating the conference, the PM said, "An adequate supply of energy at affordable prices is critical to our economic growth ... there is a need to bridge the ever-increasing gap between demand and domestic supply. As India configures its policy framework to get back to the high growth-rate trajectory envisioned in our 12th Five Year Plan, the development of the energy sector and particularly the hydrocarbon space must be given particular attention."

Moily said the government must take ''decisions'' if India's energy needs are to be secured. ''There are systems and there is nothing to fear if decisions are taken transparently to move forward for the nation's benefit,'' Moily said.

In a rather weak pun, he added, "Produce or perish. For this we need to mine our minds before mining fields."

Singh said India, which is currently world's seventh largest energy producer accounting for 2.5 per cent of world's total annual energy production but is still further than ever from meeting its domestic needs, must ''increase its energy supply by three to four times over the next two decades''.

India is expected to become world's third largest energy consumer by 2020.