The Future of Natural Gas in India: A Study of Major Consuming Sectors

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Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Working Paper #65

October 2007

Jackson WP65 India gas

PESD has concluded a two year collaborative study on the Indian natural gas market with three India research groups- A.T. Kearney, Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad, and Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe). The study explores gas demand to the year 2025 in the three main gas consuming sectors within India - electricity generation, nitrogenous fertilizer production, and industrial applications - under a range of different policy and economic scenarios.

The study concludes that coal is likely to remain the dominant fuel in the power sector, but opportunities exist for gas in reducing regional air pollution and providing peaking power. For the fertilizer sector, significant opportunities exist to import cheap fertilizer, thereby reducing domestic gas demand, but political constraints will likely buoy gas demand. Industrial consumers will benefit from increased supplies from LNG to displace expensive liquid fuels, but cheap coal remains the dominant fuel for many industrial applications.

Regional air pollution constraints in the power sector - already underway in certain parts of India could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 100 million tonnes per year. Reforms underway in the Indian coal sector, however, could bring a surge in new supplies, which would undermine the opportunities for gas in the power sector.

From an international supply standpoint, India doesn't appear able to guarantee the offtake of a proposed large natural gas pipeline from Iran within the next 10-15 years, making the project very difficult to justify from a financial risk standpoint.

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