India plans to bring more reforms in natural gas sector and will build a gas trading hub to aid better price discovery for domestic as well as imported fuel, said Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Also, the country plans to double the network of pipelines transporting natural gas to 30,000 km in next 3-4 years as part of plans to shift to a gas-based economy to cut greenhouse emissions and reliance on imported oil. "We are in the process of reforming the gas market in India where you can sell your gas through a gas trading hub," he said at an India Session at the 22nd World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul. Currently, natural gas in India is sold on the basis of a government-mandated formula that links the local price to rates prevailing in gas-surplus nations.
In comparison, most long-term contracts for import of gas are linked or indexed to oil. The absence of market determined prices has been a big disincentive for companies to invest in gas exploration and production. Now, the government has begun discussions about building a trading platform, he said but did not give any target date for starting the hub. New Delhi is committed to cutting a third of its emission by 2030, partly by boosting the use of cleaner burning fuels. "We are also completing a 30,000 km national gas grid in coming years. We can proudly claim that we have not only brought in policy reforms, but also implemented them," Pradhan said in his speech, a copy of which was released by his ministry here. The minister invited global companies to come and invest in Indian oil and gas sector, which has been thrown open with the Open Acreage Licensing policy allowing investors to choose from 2.8 million square km to explore. While slowdown seems to have become the new norm in global economy, India, on the contrary, has managed to maintain a GDP growth rate of over 7 per cent in the last two years, he said. "India is marching steadily towards emerging as a leading global economy, aided by several transformational reforms and innovative campaigns by the government," he said. India, he said, has emerged as one of the most attractive investment destinations with a record USD 60 billion of FDI inflows in 2016-17 fiscal. "As India grows and aspires to become a world leader, you must all take note that it represents a robust consumption and a market with ready market access," he said. Global primary energy consumption increased by just one per cent in 2016 while the growth of same in India was 5.4 per cent. As per estimates, India is poised to account for one fourth of the incremental global energy demand between 2013 and 2040. India is the third largest consumer of oil in the world and imports about 80 per cent of its needs, he said adding the government wants to cut down the import dependence by 10 per cent by 2022. Pradhan said the government has in last three years introduced a series of reforms including giving higher price for gas from difficult fields, reform in production sharing contracts, marketing and pricing freedom for Coal Bed Methane and launching National Seismic programme to complete 2D seismic survey of 52 per cent of remaining sedimentary basins. "With the world eyeing India's growth closely, I encourage you all to take the first mover advantage, and join hands with us to become partners in the next round of global growth," he told the conference attended by global energy leaders.