India can be much larger producer, consumer of natural gas: US Congress report

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WASHINGTON: India has the potential to become a much larger producer and consumer of natural gas by 2022, according to a first-of-its-kind Congressional report.

“India’s natural gas plans have implications for a number of issues in which Congress has expressed an interest,” the bipartisan and independent Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in a report on India’s natural gas sector.

The report noted that India could see greater demand for energy with its population expected to be around 1.4 billion people by 2022, making it the world’s most populous country.

“India has the potential to become a much larger producer and consumer of natural gas by 2022,” it said.

Issues of interest include prospects for US hydrocarbon exports, investments by US energy companies, Indian investments in US natural gas production, India’s ability to meet its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change and India’s plans for integrating itself into the growing South Asian energy market, the 19-page report, released yesterday, said.

The independent research wing of the US Congress brings out periodic reports on issues of interest to American lawmakers so that they can make informative decisions.

However, the reports are not considered to be official documents of the Congress.

The CRS said in the mid-2000s, members of both houses of Congress expressed interest to formalise closer energy ties between the United States and India, and a legislation was introduced but it was not enacted into law. However, the executive branch has implemented programmes to further improve the energy partnership between the two nations, it said.

India’s current assessment of total reserves–resources that are economically and technically viable under existing market conditions–are estimated to represent less than one per cent of the global natural gas, the report said.

As India attempts to shift away from coal and oil over the coming decades, natural gas production, especially from offshore resources, is seen as a way to increase domestic supply, it noted.

Combined with improving infrastructure for imported LNG, India could become a bigger natural gas consumer in the future, the report said.

CRS said in the past decade, India has incentivised foreign access to its upstream sector as a way to increase domestic production.

Some of India’s energy companies are also investing more in US energy projects and have signed contracts to import US LNG, it said.