India again urges OPEC to phase out oil output cuts

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FILE PHOTO: The OPEC logo pictured ahead of an informal meeting between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Algiers

By Nidhi Verma

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -Indian Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday again urged the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to phase out crude output cuts as high prices are stoking inflation.

India, the world's third biggest oil importer and consumer, relies on overseas supplies for over 80% of its oil needs. Indian retail fuel prices have jumped to a record high due to higher oil prices and heavy local taxes.

In a series of tweets after a virtual meeting with OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Pradhan said oil prices should remain within a reasonable band to encourage a consumption-led recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this year New Delhi repeatedly blamed oil output cuts by Saudi Arabia and other major producers for driving up crude prices as its economy tries to recover from the pandemic.

However, relations between New Delhi and Riyadh turned sour after Saudi oil minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman advised India to use the stocks of crude it bought cheaply during the price slump in 2020. Pradhan termed Abdulaziz's response as "undiplomatic".

Following that Indian state refiners cut oil purchases from the kingdom in May. The refiners however resumed normal purchases from June as Saudi Arabia and other middle eastern countries supplied liquid medical oxygen and medical aid to help India combat deadly second wave of coronavirus.

Pradhan on Thursday again thanked OPEC, and key partner countries Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their support during the second wave of covid pandemic.

(Reporting by Nidhi VermaEditing by Mark Heinrich and David Evans)

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