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Interview: India expects higher oil demand growth this year - petroleum minister

File photo: India's Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan speaks during an interview with Reuters in New Delhi, India, June 12, 2015. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

LONDON (Reuters) - India’s oil demand growth is set to exceed 11 percent this year as the world’s third-largest oil and gas consumer accelerates its economic development, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday.

“The primary prediction for oil trajectory (last year) was 7 to 8 percent but we ended up with 11 percent. This year I am much more hopeful,” Pradhan told Reuters.

“This year (India’s oil demand) will break all the records and prediction and we are prepared.”

The growth will be driven by better monsoon rains and an acceleration of economic activity, he said.

The minister was speaking in London ahead of a presentation of India’s bid round for discovered small fields which are estimated to hold 625 million barrels of oil and gas.

The government plans to launch an exploration licensing round bid in the next financial year as the country seeks to reduce its dependency on imports by 10 percent by 2022, Pradhan said.

Reporting by Ron Bousso; editing by Jason Neely