India plans to acquire assets abroad and boost domestic exploration

India seeks to procure shale gas — which has been acknowledged as a gamechanger in North America — by buying proven assets abroad and energising its domestic exploration.

The thumbs up to shale gas was given by Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Jaipal Reddy at a round-table organised by the World Energy Forum. “We, in India, are pursuing a two-pronged approach … to shale gas: to acquire … assets abroad and to explore and produce domestically,” he said.

Addressing Energy Ministers from oil producing and consuming countries, a majority of them from the developing world, Mr. Reddy said India had formulated a draft policy on shale gas exploration. “Sustainable policy guidelines” would soon emerge from consultations with the stakeholders.

Analysts point out that access to shale gas reserves can boost India’s energy security as its augmented supplies can reduce international prices and lower consuming nations’ dependence on natural gas producers.

Agreeing with most panellists, including Ministers from Algeria, Indonesia, Iraq and Iran, Mr. Reddy said fossil fuels would rule the energy world in the coming decades. “Currently, 87 per cent of [the] global energy basket comprises fossil fuels. For India, the figure … is 92 per cent. It is also projected that among fossil fuels, natural gas will be the fastest growing source of primary energy. Coal will continue to be the predominant source for electricity generation, globally at 30 per cent and in India at 53 per cent.”

A “paradigmatic breakthrough” was required if non-conventional energy was to make a dent in the global energy production and consumption patterns, he said.

Acknowledging that India and China alone accounted for a 50 per cent growth in world energy demand, Mr. Reddy made a serious attempt, during the course of the conference, to flag a new energy partnership between India with Iraq.

Iraq has already emerged as India’s second largest crude supplier, but New Delhi is keen on finding a niche in the country’s energy exploration, refining and petrochemical sectors.

Mr. Reddy promised Iraq’s Electricity Minister, Karim Aftan al-Jumaili, whom he met on the sidelines, to visit Baghdad next month to chair a meeting of the India-Iraq Joint Commission.

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