India steps up bet on gas with first gas trading exchange
By Nidhi Verma
NEU-DELHI (Reuters) - India launched its first gas trading exchange on Monday, which allows local and foreign companies such as Shell, Vitol and Trafigura to sell directly to domestic customers.
India, a major greenhouse gas emitter, is expanding its gas infrastructure, including connecting households with the expansion of the gas pipeline network, to increase the share of gas in its energy mix from currently 6.2% to 15% by 2030.
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The country's current daily gas consumption - which is less harmful to the environment than other fossil fuels such as coal and oil - is around 165 million cubic meters, of which 47% is covered by imported liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Rajesh Mediratta, a director of the India Gas Exchange, said the platform was originally designed to facilitate trading in LNG, mainly with cheaper spot quantities, since locally produced gas is sold to certain customers at government fixed prices.
"... part of (imported LNG) will go public, so that GAIL, GSPC (Gujarat Energy Petroleum Corp.), H-Energy, Shell from Indian Oil Corp. and international traders like Trafigura and Vitol sell on the stock exchange Buyers will be on the other side, "he said.
He added that most of India's gas consumption growth would be met by imports.
The India Gas Exchange offers spot and futures contracts in Dahej and Hazira in the western state of Gujarat and in Kakinada in southern Andhra Pradesh.
Global traders are currently selling LNG to Indian customers through companies such as Peronet LNG, IOC, GAIL, BPCL GSPC. Shell is the only foreign company that sells directly to customers through its LNG terminal in Hazira.
Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said India would soon pursue a new gas tariff policy. He said India would expand its gas pipeline infrastructure from 17,000 km to 32,000 km (km) in the next few years and increase its annual LNG import capacity from 39.2 million to around 50 million tons.
"With a market-based pricing mechanism in place, India Gas Exchange will play a greater role in realizing a free gas market," said Pradhan when the trading platform was launched.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; editing by Mark Potter)
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