The central government’s decision to double gas prices will lead to more investments into oil and gas exploration sectors and help in addressing global warming concerns, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said on Friday.
“At present, we are paying $ 4.5 for local oil and gas while we import at $ 13. If we do not increase the price from $ 4.5 to $ 6 or $ 8, which can bring more investments into exploration, then we have to keep on importing at a higher price and remain dependent on others,” Mr. Khurshid said addressing Congress workers at PCC office in Srinagar.
He said price hike was not due to inefficiency of the government but because of the fact that India imports 80 per cent of its fuel requirements.
“If the prices increase, it is not because we are not doing our job well. It is because we import 80 per cent of our fuel requirements. Today, gas is not only used for domestic purposes but also used for generating power and operating factories and trains,” he said.
The Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs yesterday approved hiking natural gas price to $ 8.4 per mmBtu from the current $ 4.2 per mmBtu with effect from April, 2014.
The increase in gas price was opposed by user ministries of power and fertiliser as it would lead to cost of generating electricity spiking to Rs 6.40 per unit from Rs 2.93 and nearly Rs 9,000 crore per annum rise in cost of urea output.
Mr. Khurshid said that “it was not an easy decision” as even some of the allies in the government did not understand it.
“It was not an easy decision. It was a difficult decision ... our own partners did not understand this,” he said.