NEW DELHI, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Indian Oil Minister Veerappa Moily called for the country to achieve energy independence by 2030, a goal he said is "very much possible."
Moily told an industry meeting in New Delhi that he was "working for preparation of a detailed road map having (a) well defined action plan" to achieve the energy independence target so that import dependence is reduced by 50 percent by 2020, 75 percent by 2025 and 100 percent by 2030," the Economic Times reports.
India currently imports 80 percent of its crude oil.
"Since energy is a critical driver of growth and development, our goal should be to make energy available, in the right mix and at the lowest possible economic and environmental costs," Moily said.
Energy challenges facing India include increasing domestic production of oil and gas, diversifying into unconventional sources such as coal bed methane and shale gas and accelerating the acquisition of hydrocarbon assets abroad, he said.
Moily said India will focus more on natural gas in the years ahead as it aims to increase its share of around 9 percent in its primary energy basket toward the current global average of 23 percent.
"This will require collective action from the government, industry and consumers. With huge finds of natural gas in other parts of the world, including Australia, Qatar, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania, it offers a credible alternative as a less environment friendly and possibly cheaper fossil fuel," he said.
Moily said "the whole natural gas value chain" covering domestic production, import of re-gasified LNG, or RLNG, pipeline transportation and pricing of natural gas are being addressed by his ministry.
Ministry figures indicate that LNG imports, which accounted for 25.5 percent of India's total consumption of the fuel in 2011-12, will rise to 41 percent in the current fiscal year and 50 percent in the next fiscal year.
In Asian markets LNG has traded at $9 to $13 per unit, or per million metric British thermal units. But an investment banker working for an Indian company with gas interests who requested anonymity told India's Business Today that he expects LNG to be supplied to India at around $10 mmbtu in the future.
So far India has two LNG terminals in Gujarat, one is being commissioned and another will open next year. During the next five years, 13 more terminals and floating gasification units are planned on India's east and west coasts.
Shell's expansion of its 3.6 million-ton-a-year Hazira re-gasification terminal in Gujarat in southwestern India to 5 million tons a year is likely to occur this year, Yasmine Hilton, chairwoman, Shell Group of Companies in India, recently told The Hindu newspaper. Hilton says the company aims to increase that amount to 10 million tons per year.