New Delhi, Mar 23 (ANI): Asserting that emerging economies of Asia are rapidly increasing their use of natural gas, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Friday said the remarkable growth in the use of gas in Asian economies underscored the greater role that this region is poised to play in the future development of gas markets in the world.
Addressing the inaugural function of the seventh Asia Gas Partnership Summit here, Dr. Singh said: "As an illustration, in the last five years, natural gas consumption in India and China has witnessed compound annual growth rates of 14 percent and 18 percent respectively."
Dr. Singh said the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Australia and the Middle-East, has already emerged as a principal source of gas supply.
"The Asian region, led by China and India, is also emerging as a major destination for that supply. Asia Pacific accounts for about 60 percent of world's total LNG imports.
Therefore, there is a natural synergy in promoting greater flow of trade, investment, skills and services, across the gas-value-chain within the Asian region. Indeed we should move beyond the conventional buyer-seller relationships to more a comprehensive gas and energy partnership in this vast region," said Dr. Singh.
"Such partnerships can benefit the gas-endowed countries in the region from capital investments in their gas fields and also from the associated long-term purchase agreements. Simultaneously the fast-growing emerging markets in the region can gain in terms of securing reliable supplies of gas at affordable prices," he added.
The Prime Minister said the large and growing markets in Asia also provide an opportunity for collaboration through joint research and technology development for the supply of clean and cheaper energy to the people.
"Expanding the use of natural gas in India is one of the most important and immediate ways of responding to the challenges of energy security and the management of climate change. The Government of India had launched the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) way back in the year 1997-98. The policy has resulted in investments of over US$14bn and discovery of 87 oil and gas blocks, with three blocks in production," said Dr. Singh.
" The 9th round of NELP has just been completed covering a sedimentary area of about 88,000 sq km, which saw participation by 37 companies including eight foreign ones," he added.
Dr. Singh said the opening up of the oil and gas sector to private industry participation has resulted in higher domestic gas availability and has also led to growing participation by multinational corporations.
Dr. Singh further said India has accelerated investment in creation of LNG re-gasification facilities to cater to the large demand for gas.
" With new re-gasification LNG terminals coming up at Kochi and Dabhol, the country's current import capacity of 14 million tonnes a year is set to increase to 20 million tonnes a year by 2012-13," he added.
The Prime Minister informed that the government has also launched an ambitious pipeline development programme.
"I understand that the Gas Authority of India alone will expand its pipeline length from the existing 9000 Km to around 14,500 km by 2014. Private operators are also expected to add another 5,000 km in the same period. The target is to have a country-wide gas grid of about 30,000 km by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan in 2017," said Dr. Singh.
"The 2000 km long Dahej-Vijaipur-Bawana-Nangal/Bhatinda pipeline of GAIL has been completed recently. I have great pleasure, I have the privilege of dedicating it to the nation today. I understand that it has the potential to be extended up to the border with Pakistan. I am happy therefore, to dedicate this pipeline to the nation today," he added.
Stating that as India has one of the world's largest coal reserves, Dr. Singh said: "We wish to work with international companies having the requisite experience and expertise for exploitation of coal seam gas."
The Prime Minister further said the government has initiated gas pricing policy reforms to incentivize production of natural gas.
"We are conscious that remunerative energy prices are needed to ensure expanded energy supply. At the same time oil and gas are national resources and, therefore, should be within the framework of government and regulatory oversight. The economic exploitation of these resources should lead, therefore, to win-win solutions for both the investors as well as the people of India at large," he added. (ANI)
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