Gas pricing to be determined by Govt: Petroleum Secretary

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New Delhi, Sept.25 : Saying that the gas market now in India is completely a suppliers' market, Union Secretary for Petroleum and Natural Gas, R.S. Pandey today stated that the Government would determine the pricing formula of gas, which he described as the "fuel of the future".

Delivering the keynote address at the 7th Petro India conference on the theme of "Gas in India - Issues, Opportunities and Challenges" in Delhi, organised by Observer Research Foundation and Indian Energy Forum, Pandey said the gas market was completely controlled by the suppliers because of the shortage in the availability of the gas.

"Where is the competition now? How can the price be fair when the market is controlled by the suppliers? In such a scenario, the Government will have to determine the pricing formula of gas to balance the interests of both the suppliers and consumers," Pandey said.

Pandey said gas pricing was key to both demand and growth. So, the government control over pricing would help prevent any hardship to the vast majority of individual consumers besides accentuating growth in the sector.

Pandey said the government was giving its priority to increasing the supply of gas. He said negotiations were progressing well both Iran, Turkmenistan and other countries regarding the pipeline proposals (Iran, India and Pakistan pipeline and Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India - TAPI). "The talks are going on well, in the right track. But I don't want to set a timeline because other countries are also involved," he said.

Saying acquiring assets abroad is a top priority, Mr. Pandey said the Government would "aggressively pursue" its efforts in this direction.

Pandey said the government would continue to give priority to the fertiliser and power sectors.

Pandey called for a shift in emphasis to natural gas, the fuel of the future, and announced that the results of NELP-VII bidding would be finalised in a few days.

Pandey advocated a two-pronged strategy to reduce the country's import dependency in the energy sector. One, to accelerate efforts on exploration and development, and two, acquisition of assets abroad, he said. Mr Pandey informed the delegates that ONGC Videsh was already contributing 14 per cent of total domestic production with assets in 22 countries.

David Victor, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, USA, also focused on gas pricing in his special address. He drew the attention of delegates to research analysis that indicated that gas prices tended to follow the oil price trend. More importantly, he cautioned the industry that US gas demand had dropped by almost a third in recent years primarily due to higher prices. Therefore, any discussion on gas pricing should incorporate the aspect of potential demand destruction.

Surendra Singh, President, ORF Centre for Politics and Governance and former Cabinet Secretary, called for a market driven gas price regime. To ensure industry growth and enhance energy security, the government must ensure a long-term fiscal and market regime, he said.

Dr. S. Narayan, Advisor to ORF Chairman and former Economic Advisor to PM, stressed the need for a Regulator for the Upstream as well, like the Regulator for Downstream. He also emphasised on the need to allow the Regulator to act transparently once the appointment is made.

Dr. Rabi Bastia, Sr. Vice President of G and G, RIL, said the gas economy would grow seven-fold in 20 to 30 years.

Petro India 2008, a premier event in the country's energy sector, focused on 'Gas in India - Issues, Opportunities and Challenges', and discussed issues impacting the gas sector in view of the increased demand for energy to sustain the country's economic growth.

The two-day Petro India 2008 summit is being attended by representatives of leading public and private sector bodies, policy-makers and regulators, gas suppliers, industry consultants and researchers among others.

ANI

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