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Top gas importer of India expects ‘huge jump’ in demand as prices ease

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NEW DELHI : India’s top gas importer Petronet LNG expects a ‘huge jump’ in local gas demand for at least six months due to a softening of global prices of liquefied natural gas (LNG), its CEO A. K. Singh said on Wednesday.

Indian gas demand is already showing signs of recovery after global LNG prices fell to about $11 per million British thermal units in Asian markets.

Petronet operated its 17.5 million tonnes a year Dahej LNG terminal on the west coast at 97% in April compared to 77% in the three months to March, Singh told reporters on its quarterly earnings call.

“If the prices stabilise we can expect a huge jump,” Singh said, adding Indian gas demand was price sensitive. India wants to raise the share of gas in its energy mix to 15% by 2030 from 6.2% at present.

Singh said Indian LNG imports could have risen to 30 million tonnes a year had there not been abnormal situations such as the COVID pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In the fiscal year to March 2023, India imported 20.1 million tonnes of LNG, down from 25.6 million tonnes in 2019/20 according to the government data.

“Things are looking quite bright as of now… We expect this trend to continue at least till six months from now,” Singh said.

He added demand in the later part of the year would depend on the winter season in the West and its implication on LNG prices.

Singh expects capacity use at its 5 million tonnes a year Kochi terminal in southern India to rise beyond 20% as Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd and a petrochemical plant could turn to gas from liquid fuels, drawn to the lower prices of the cleaner fuel.

Petronet is adding two LNG storage tanks at its Dahej plant and one at its Kochi facility, he said.

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