Home >Industry >Energy >India's gas imports set to rise, demand reaches pre-pandemic level

NEW DELHI : India's gas imports are set to rise as GAIL (India) Ltd has reopened its western India imports facility after months of shutdown during the monsoon and as local demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels, its head of marketing said on Monday.

GAIL had stopped importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes at its 5 million tonnes/year Ratnagiri terminal in western India in May, as the start of the monsoon season makes operations difficult without a breakwater to protect the harbour from large waves.

"Now our imports will be normal as the shutdown is over," E.S. Ranganathan told Reuters.

GAIL on an average receive 5 LNG cargoes a month at the terminal but its imports have been hit since end-March due to a nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Since the shutdown, it unloaded a cargo on Sept. 27.

India meets about half of its daily 160-170 million standard cubic meters (mmscm) of gas demand through imports.

LNG imports, however, slipped over three years low to 1,947 mmscm in April, when coronavirus-linked lockdowns hit mobility and industrial activity. India's overall gas demand during the month shrunk to the lowest since March 2015 to 4,013 mmscm, according to the government data.

Gas demand has started increasing as restrictions were eased from May.

"Gas demand has come back to pre-Covid level... new customers are added that together makes up for the loss in demand from some CGD (city gas distribution) area," said Ranganathan.

India's city gas distribution companies supply gas to domestic households, transport and small industries.

Ranganathan said most fertiliser and power plants, key consumers of gas, were operating at a normal rate.

India is also adding more stations to sell gas to automobiles, and building pipelines and import facilities as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to boost the share of cleaner fuel in the energy mix to 15% by 2030 from 6.2% now.

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