Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Veerappa Moily, on Tuesday, said various state-run companies in the oil and gas sectors had initiated talks with international players to buy as much as 20 million tonnes (mt) a year of LNG.

“India has now become fifth largest importer of LNG after Japan, South Korea, the U.K. and Spain, and accounts for 5.5 per cent of the total trade.

With LNG demand expected to grow at 5-6 per cent a year till 2020 and 2-3 per cent thereafter, India, along with other Asian counterparts, is driving this growth,’’ he said while addressing the third IEF NOC-IOC Forum.

He said a lot of capacity was being created in India and LNG re-gasification capacity was expected to be more than 50 mt annually by 2016-17 with a supply of 198 million standard cubic metres per day.

The nation at present has three operational LNG import facilities — 10 million tonne terminal at Dahej and 3.6 million tonne plant at Hazira in Gujarat and 5 million tonne terminal at Dabhol in Maharashtra. A 5 mt capacity terminal is to be commissioned in Kochi in Kerala this year.

“India already has secured supply deal of around 14 mt per annum of LNG and around 20 mt deals are in the pipeline. But the challenge before us is that the landed cost is expected to remain high in the lower range of $10-12 per million British thermal unit and not in the range of $4-5, which customers are used to,’’ he remarked.