Petroleum Sec moots two-pronged strategy to reduce import dependency

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New Delhi, Sept 25 (UNI) Outlining a two-pronged strategy for reducing the country's import dependency in the energy sector, Petroleum Secretary R S Pandey today said the country needs to accelerate efforts for exploration and development, and acquire assets abroad.

''Acquiring assets abroad is a top priority...government would aggressively pursue its efforts in this direction,'' Mr Pandey said while addressing the seventh Petro India conference on 'Gas in India: Issues, Opportunities and Challenges'.

The Summit was organised by Observer Research Foundation and Indian Energy Forum.

There should be more emphasis on accelerating the efforts on exploration and development, he said.

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

He also 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.

Saying that the gas market now in India is completely a suppliers' market, the Secretary stated that the government would determine the pricing formula of gas.

The gas market was completely controlled by the suppliers because of the shortage in the availability of the gas, he said.

''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,'' he said.

Mr 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.

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.

UNI MP SR BD2045

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