India seeks shale gas supplies from US

New Delhi, May 16: India is looking at the possibility of importing liquefied shale gas from the US, as part of efforts to look at alternative sources to meet its energy security needs.

The matter came up during discussions that Indian officials held with Carlos Pascual, the US special envoy for international energy affairs, here Tuesday.

“The possibility of export of shale gas in liquefied form from the US to India was also discussed. We understand that it is expected the US will positively respond to it,” India’s external affairs ministry (MEA) officials said Wednesday.

Pascual led a US delegation, which met a composite Indian team led by MEA Joint Secretary (Americas) Jawed Ashraf and which included officials from the petroleum and natural gas, new and renewable energy resources, and power ministries and the Planning Commission.

Pascual was here to discuss alternate sources of crude supplies to India, and his visit came within a week of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip when she had raised the issue of India’s oil imports from Iran and expressed the hope that these would be reduced.

However, India has been regularly reducing its oil imports from Iran over the last few years, keeping its refineries’ technical-commercial considerations in mind.

The Indian request to the US for shale gas supplies came while India’s Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas R.P.N. Singh informed the Rajya Sabha Tuesday that India has substantially reduced oil imports from Iran.

R.P.N Singh told parliament that India imported 18.50 million tonnes of crude from Iran in 2010-11, which came down to 17.44 million tonnes in 2011-12. He also said the target has been fixed at 15.5 million tonnes for 2012-13.

An MEA official pointed out that there had been a steady “diminishing” in crude oil imports from Iran. He noted that in 2008-09, India had imported 21.8 million tonnes of crude, which came down to 21.2 million tonnes in 2009-10.

“We could not have anticipated what was going to happen in June 2012 when these reductions in imports were made,” he said, seeking to delink the decision to reduce imports from Iran and the US requests for the same following its sanctions against Iran.

India has made it clear that it adhered to all United Nations Security Council resolutions on Iran regarding its nuclear weapons programme and not to sanctions announced by individual countries.

The US had in March imposed sanctions, which threaten to shut out imports of Iran oil from the US financial system. The US has set a deadline of June-end for nations to significantly cut their oil imports from Iran.

However, it has exempted nations like Japan and 10 European Union members, while India, along with China, continues to remain at the risk of US sanctions.

During their discussions with Pascual, India explained the long-term projections of India’s energy needs, including key suppliers of oil and natural gas and the possible external energy sources in Africa, North America and Southeast Asia, according to the MEA official.

The US official also made a presentation on how the global energy market is likely to emerge in the future.

India is currently importing crude oil from 30 countries. It informed the US delegation about incentives being provided on renewable energy sources.

Pascaul is in Mumbai Wednesday to meet Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) officials and other financial institutions.

IANS