WASHINGTON, March 21 (UPI) -- India is now the world's fourth largest energy consumer of oil and petroleum products after the United States, China and Russia, a new analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration says.
India's primary energy consumption has more than doubled from 1990-2011, says the EIA report, which was released this week. India's per capita energy consumption, however, continues to be lower compared to developed countries.
While India had 5.5 billion barrels of proved oil reserves at the end of 2012, mostly in western India, it depends heavily on imported crude oil.
Production is held up in India in 39 oil and gas blocks because of disagreements between India's defense ministry and oil companies, the Business Standard reports.
Earlier this year Indian Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily pledged to come up with an action plan to make India energy independent by 2030 through increased hydrocarbon production, unconventional resources such as coalbed methane and shale, foreign acquisitions by domestic Indian companies and reduced subsidies on motor fuels.
So far Indian national oil companies have purchased equity stakes in overseas oil and gas fields in South America, Africa and the Caspian Sea region. Still, the bulk of imports continue to come from the Middle East, where Indian companies don't have access to investment.
EIA cited high debt levels, infrastructure deficiencies and political polarization between the India's two largest political parties, as risks to India's economic growth.
EIA says that India became the world's sixth largest importer of liquefied natural gas in 2011.
To meet increasing demand, eight LNG import terminal and regasification facilities are under evaluation by the India Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Separately this week, British gas company BG Group, in announcing that it had completed an agreement on long-term LNG sales to India, referred to the country as one of the world's most rapidly growing energy markets.
BG Group Chief Executive Chris Finlayson said in a statement, "We expect the country (India) to lie third among LNG importing countries by 2025, behind Japan and China."
Under the deal, BG Group will supply India's state-owned Gujarat State Petroleum Corp. Ltd. with 1.25 million tons of LNG per year for up to 20 years.
The Indian government expects domestic demand for natural gas to more than triple from 13.5 million tons in 2012 to an estimated 48 million tons in 2017.
The EIA report cited India's severe shortage of electricity generation, which results in insufficient fuel supplies.
India has 211 gigawatts of installed electricity capacity, about 9 percent of which is generated by natural gas-fired plants. Still, coal retains the largest share of India's electricity mix, accounting for about 57 percent of total installed capacity.