Prime Minster Narendra Modi on Wednesday called on oil-producing countries to ensure “reasonable and responsible pricing” that will make energy accessible and affordable to all, PTI reported. Modi was speaking at the International Energy Forum conference in New Delhi.

The prime minister said “efforts at artificially distorting prices were self-destructive” and stressed on the poor gaining access to affordable energy. “It is in the interest of oil producers that consuming markets grow,” Modi said.

The prime minister said India would be a key determining factor in the energy demand over the next five years. His remarks on pricing of oil came at a time when the government has faced criticism over the rising prices of petrol and diesel in India. Prices of both fuels reached multi-year highs last week.

A surge in global crude oil prices, curbs on production by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and high demand are considered the reasons for the increasing fuel prices.

Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Khalid A Al-Falih was present at the conference. He said India is a priority destination for Saudi investment and his country’s oil firm Saudi Aramco will continue to look here for opportunities.

During the event, Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, signed a memorandum of understanding to buy 50% stake in a $44-billion (Rs 2.87 lakh crore) oil refinery in Maharashtra. State-owned oil firms Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited hold the remaining stake.

Saudi Arabia will supply half of the 60-million-tonne capacity the refinery, Al-Falih said.