Singapore: State-run gas utility Gail India aims to invest $1 billion in one year’s time in shale gas assets, particularly in the United States and Canada, its chairman and managing director said on Wednesday.

B.C. Tripathi said that optimistically, the company could make an investment, or acquisition in the next six months.

B.C. Tripathi, chairman and managing director of Gail India Ltd. Bloomberg

“Going forward, we expect investments of almost $1 billion in the shale gas assets in US and Canadian markets in the next one year from now."

In September, Gail said it had agreed to buy a 20% stake in one of Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc’s shale gas assets in the US and would invest a total of $300 million over the next five years.

Gail’s plans come after Reliance Industries , India’s top private sector firm, last year sealed three shale gas joint ventures in the US, including a $1.7 billion deal with Atlas Energy to own 40% of its Marcellus Shale operations.

Tripathi said in October that Gail, which planned to open an office in Houston on 1 November, aimed to consolidate its presence in shale gas assets in the United States, and use the expertise for exploration in India. India has pushed back plans to unveil its shale gas exploration policy to next year, oil minister S. Jaipal Reddy had said.

Tripathi said he expects the company, which has a market capitalisation of around $11 billion, to maintain the strong growth momentum in its revenue and profitability due to resilient demand for gas in the market.

“We have seen a growth of almost 20% both in our topline and bottomline. We expect that a similar momentum will continue in the remaining quarter as well because the market sentiment and demand numbers are quite encouraging at this moment in time," said Tripathi, who is in the city-state for the Singapore International Energy Week.

Shale gas now makes up one quarter of all US natural gas production and the Energy Information Administration forecasts this proportion to double by 2035.

Shale gas, which has four times the potential of conventional gas, can be extracted from soft finely stratified sedimentary rock formed from consolidated mud or clay, by creating small cracks in underground rock formations.

Apart from the expansion in shale gas market, Tripathi said Gail is aiming to boost its transmission pipeline network in the country to 15,000 km by 2014 from 8,800 km currently.

Gail share price traded nearly 1% lower on Wednesday. It has declined by around 18% since the start of the year.