India plans to more than double its annual LNG import capacity to 50 million tonnes in the next few years, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said Thursday. Also, as part of strategy to move towards a gas-based economy, the first LNG-driven bus is likely to start plying in Kerala early next month, he said.
The nation currently has capacity to import 21 million tonnes per annum of super-cooled gas (liquefied natural gas or LNG) in ships. This liquid gas is turned back into gaseous state, called reclassification, before being supplied to customers like power plants.
“We currently have LNG import and reclassification capacity of 21 million tonnes. This we plan to raise to 50 million tonnes in the next few years,” he said.
While globally natural gas makes up for 24 per cent of the energy basket, it is just 6.5-7 per cent in India. “We would like to raise the share of natural gas in the energy basket to 15 per cent in the next 3-5 years,” he said.
With domestic gas output dropping, imports of the environment friendly fuel presents the best option. Petronet LNG Ltd operates a 10 million tonnes a year LNG import terminal at Dahej in Gujarat and has another 5 million tonnes facility at Kochi which is lying mostly idle because of lack of pipeline to take the gas to consumers.
Royal Dutch Shell operates a 5 million tonnes a year LNG terminal at Hazira in Gujarat while a 1.2 million tonnes capacity operational terminal is there at Dabhol in Maharashtra. While the Dahej terminal is being expanded to 15 million tonnes this year and to 18 million tonnes in future, construction of a breakwater would make 5 million tonnes operational capacity at Dabhol.
Among the new terminals being built is a 5 million tonnes facility by GSPC-Adani at Mundra in Gujarat, Adani-IOC-GAIL combine’s similar capacity unit at Dhamra in Odisha and another equal capacity terminal by IOC at Ennore in Tamil Nadu.
Shell and GAIL are looking at building a floating LNG import terminal at Kakinada with initial capacity of 1.75 million tonnes. Pradhan said Kerala will celebrate its foundation day on November 1 and it is being endeavoured to start trial run of LNG-driven bus on that day.
“Petronet LNG and Indian Oil Corp (IOC) are in discussions with the Kerala government on the issue,” he said adding this experiment will be extended to long-haul commercial vehicles and trains in future.
Using LNG directly as fuel in vehicles will help skip one step of converting the imported liquid gas back into gaseous state. India’s natural gas demand is expected to grow from 473 million standard cubic meter per day (mmscmd) now to 494 mmscmd in 2017-18 and 523 mmscmd in 2018-19.