Dubai, Apr 11: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a new beginning in India's relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said here today, underlining the need to build on the momentum and enhance cooperation in the energy sector.
"The prime minister's visit to the UAE last year, his visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this month and the visits of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Qatar Crown Prince have added another chapter in the age-old trade relations between India and the Gulf region," Pradhan told PTI during his ongoing visit to the UAE.
"The main idea behind my visit to the UAE was to maintain the momentum built by the bilateral exchanges and to enhance cooperation in the energy sector, especially in areas such as strategic reserve," he added. Pradhan said that India is pursuing strategic reserve with a view to building capacity within the country.
Earlier today, the minister visited the Make-in-India pavilion which has been set up at the Annual Investment Summit, being held here. On his recent visit to Iran, Pradhan said that with Farzad-B deal, signed with Iran, things are moving in the right direction.
"Iran says it will not keep this gas as the country is in surplus. So India will take this to the world market or take it to India. We will look at all the options with an open mind.
"Whether we move this by converting into LNG or via pipeline, we will do whatever is cost-effective and feasible considering all circumstances," he said. The minister said that low oil prices have benefited India in many ways. "It has helped us control inflation.
We have passed on to consumers almost 50 per cent of the benefit we had because of low oil prices. We spent the remaining 50 per cent in welfare activities and in areas such as infrastructure, capacity building and health and education," he said.
According to Pradhan, low oil prices have really benefited the Indian economy. "The trickle down effect into areas such as health and education has raised the standard of living. From the same savings, money has been spent in giving free LPG connections to below poverty live (BPL) category families.
"All this has gone a long way in empowering the needy while investment in infrastructure has generated employment opportunities," the minister said.