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By Nidhi Verma
NEW DELHI, April 26 (Reuters) - India will work to create a network with other major oil buyers in Asia, such as China, South Korea and Japan, to negotiate better terms with sellers, the country's Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in New Delhi on Thursday.
"I see bigger co-operation between four bigger economies of Asia... India will try to create a network between these four economies," he said.
"All the four major Asian economies should come together. And India will try to create a network for that within the four countries," he said, referring to a need to have a greater say in importing crude oil from OPEC nations.
Crude oil imports by China, India, Japan and South Korea alone make up more than 20 percent of global demand, according to official numbers.
During the International Energy Forum in New Delhi earlier this month, Pradhan held a meeting with China's CNPC and expressed hopes that the two countries, along with other Asian major importers, could work together in future to have "responsible pricing" for the region while sourcing crude oil from oil producers.
In a speech at the IEF, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi also called for a rationalised price for both producers and consumers.
Also during the meting India's Ministry of Petroleum and Natural gas asked Sanjiv Singh, the chairman of India's biggest state-owned refiner Indian Oil Corp, to coordinate with his Chinese counterparts and devise a consensus for negotiating with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Market participants are sceptical that Asia's oil buyers will be able to closely coordinate their purchases since the countries have vastly different energy needs and interests, including differing crude quality needs for their specific refineries.
Yet there is precedence. Last year, when Asia’s main buyers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) said they would join efforts in order to secure greater supply flexibility from sellers, producers started to become more accepting of flexible terms.
Writing by Promit Mukherjee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger