Oil India

By Amit Bhandari, Gateway House

Petroleum prices touched a new four -year low of $72.5 per barrel after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided last week against reducing production . The 35 per cent price drop is a huge relief for India, where petroleum products comprise a third of the import bill. Cheaper oil means narrower current account and fiscal deficits, and reduced prices at the pump for consumers shopping for food-grains, vegetables, cement and steel.

Can this happy situation last? Will 2015 be the year in which high oil prices do not disadvantage India? Judging by history, it may be.

Before oil prices began to rise in 2003, a 20-year run of price stability fuelled global growth. But cheap oil killed off investments in exploration and production. OPEC gained market share, from 30 per cent of global production in 1983 to over 40 per cent by the end of 1990s. Read more

Shares in Oil India dropped 1.4 per cent on Friday to Rs532.90, as the Indian government opened an offer for sale for 10 per cent of the state-run company. But with Delhi offering stock for as little as Rs510, many analysts see a buying opportunity – particularly if government plans for energy market reform accelerate. Read more

As sanctions on Iranian oil exports tighten, some relief for Tehran has come from the Indian government, which will support insurance for tankers transporting Iranian crude to Indian refiners.

India follows China and Japan in providing insurance support in response to EU sanctions introduced on 1 July, targeting insurers of ships carrying Iranian oil. But it seems likely to be no more than a stop-gap solution to shortages already hitting India’s refineries, as new sanctions are expected to make the trade increasingly difficult. Read more

By Shriram Subramanian of InGovern

The letter sent by The Children’s Investment Fund (TCI) to Coal India is a wakeup call for the Indian government, companies and institutional investors to take corporate governance issues seriously. Probably for the first time in Indian corporate history, an institutional investor has threatened to sue individual board members of a listed entity. Read more