April 19 (UPI) -- British energy company BP said Thursday it signed off on the development of deepwater gas projects in India for a total investment of $6 billion.
BP and India's Reliance Industries sanctioned the development of a cluster of deepwater gas fields with an estimated 3 trillion cubic feet of discovered reserves. India consumes more than 5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and could double its consumption by 2022. Once production begins in 2020, the project could meet about 20 percent of India's current demand.
"This development supports the country's imminent need of increasing domestic gas supply and is a firm step towards making India a gas-based economy," Mukesh Ambani, the chairman for Reliance, said.
The $6 billion deal with BP came one week after the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known commonly as Saudi Aramco, signed a memorandum of understanding with a consortium of oil companies in India to jointly develop and build a refinery complex in the western coastal state of Maharashtra.
At its peak, the refinery would be able to process 1.2 million barrels of crude oil per day. With an estimated cost of $44 billion, the refinery would be among the world's largest and designed to meet India's growing appetite for fuels and petrochemicals.
Year-over-year, Indian imports of petroleum, crude oil and petroleum products increased more than 40 percent.
India is nevertheless a committee partner in the multilateral Paris climate agreement. The government has set a goal of reducing its emissions by about 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
Last month, French energy company ENGIE signed on to solar and wind power projects with a combined capacity of 608 megawatts of peak capacity, with the majority coming from solar energy.
Economists at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries expect India's economy to grow 7.2 percent this year, after recording 6.4 percent last year. India is facing economic growth issues, however, because of higher crude oil prices. Its trade deficit hit $16.3 billion in January, the highest level in more than five years.