Doha: India plans to invest in liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in producing countries to help meet growing demand in its own rapidly expanding economy, oil minister S. Jaipal Reddy said on Monday.

Liquefied-natural-gas ( LNG) tanks are seen. Photo: Bloomberg

India buys 7.5 million tonnes a year of LNG from Qatar in long term deals and has also signed long term supply contracts with Australia’s Gorgon venture.

India needs gas to help power electricity generation, produce fertilizers, for cooking, to run vehicles and for industry. But its imports are curbed by a lack of pipeline infrastructure and LNG import terminals.

India’s current gas demand at 166 million cubic metres a day (mmscmd) is projected to rise to 443 mmscmd by 2017, said junior oil minister R.P.N. Singh at a conference in Delhi

India’s domestic output is falling because of problems at the D6 block off India’s east coast operated by Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) while state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) is struggling to arrest declining production from its ageing field.

Rating agency ICRA has revised down India’s gas output estimate by 22% to 153 mmscmd by 2014-15 mainly due to falling output from the D6 block and a delay in commissioning satellite fields.

India, the world’s fourth largest oil importer, ships in 80% of its oil needs to meet growing local fuel demand and feed its expanding refining capacity.

To cut its oil imports, Reddy said, India aims to raise the extent of areas explored from 65% to 100% by 2015.

India’s balance of recoverable reserves from known oil and gas reservoirs are about 2041 million tonnes, Reddy said, adding India’s coal reserves, the fourth largest in the world, are likely to hold about 92 trillion cubic feet of coal bed methane.