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What Is India News Service
Friday, August 18, 2006



 

 

 

Issue 1, August 25, 2006

   
 
Energy deficiency in India is seeing large investments in mega projects in refinery, pipeline installations, new power generation projects, power line grid deployment, and even private sector nuclear plants. Many companies recently announced plans to create new projects specifically targeting energy and power-generation.

Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) is setting up a joint venture with 5 major companies to lay a 5,000 kilometer power grid line at a cost of over USD 1 billion. The other companies in this joint venture are Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Essar Power, Torrent Power, Jaiprakash Group, and Teesta Urja Limited. The PGCIL will hold 24% of equity in this joint venture and the balance held by its partners.

ONGC’s new 750 megawatt (MW) plant in Tripura, Essar’s and Torrent’s new 1500 MW and 100 MW gas-fired plants respectively in Gujarat, Jaiprakash’s existing 1000 MW project in Karcham Wangtoo in Himachal Pradesh, and Teesta’s existing power plant in Sikkim will use this grid to carry their power. Tata Power Company may also join this grid from June to transport power from its 1050 MW hydroelectric power in Bhutan. India also signed an agreement with Bhutan to buy power from the 1020 megawatt (MW) Tala hydro-electric project, the largest bilateral cooperation project funded by India in a foreign country, which is also the framework for future hydro-electric cooperation.

The Federal Power Ministry has also unveiled ambitious plans to create several ultra mega power plants that can generate 4000 mega watts (mw) at the cost of Rs.150 billion each. These plants are expected to generate power between Rs.1.50 to Rs.1.80 per unit. Two plants located in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh will use domestic coal. Two others located in coastal Karnataka and Gujarat will use imported and domestic coal. A fifth project at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra is also being considered. These plants are expected to use the efficient 800 mw supercritical boilers which Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd will import through foreign collaborations. In addition to these 5, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that India would add two more 4000-megawatt (MW) mega power projects one each for Andhra Pradesh and Orissa each costing about USD 3.6 billion using a private-public investment vehicle.

Boilers from French Alstom, turbines from German Siemens will provide the technology. Other companies from Russia and South Korea are also being considered. Leading financial institution, Power Finance Corporation (PFC) will invite "expressions of interest" and the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) has already expressed willingness to invest in these financial special purpose vehicles. The plan is to parallelize the process by getting independent clearances for these companies and make the deal open to investors by end of 2006. PFC will also initiate company registration, invitation of bids, and complete all necessary studies by end of next month. Pre-qualification of potential investors is expected to be out by March. All 7 projects are expected to start January 2007 and take 4 years to become operational. Shinde said that 18 American companies have expressed interest to bid on these projects.

However, a major source of worry is the availability of fossil fuels at affordable prices and its transportation to India. India has been exploring three major pipelines to bring natural gas. The Myanmar-Bangladesh-India (MBI) pipeline is dogged by intransigence by Bangladesh to allow transiting pipelines causing India to invest heavily in Myanmar to upgrade its Sittwe port as a portal to take Liquefied Natural Gas to India even if that meant a loss of resources. The Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline project is stalled because of Iran’s pricing plan that is pegged to the crude oil rates without floor to ceiling levels and at exorbitant rates.   The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) is another project that is stalled because of the over-subscription to the gas reserves in Turkmenistan. Further, the IPI and TAPI projects are plagued by concerns that Pakistan will be a reliable and secure transiting partner. Another USD 22 billion major energy deal with Iran to source 5 million tons (mt) for 25 years starting 2009-10 is stalled because Iran wants to renegotiate the deal for higher prices and also to punish India for voting against it in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Plagued by severe fossil fuel crisis, India is trying to evolve different strategies to overcome these hurdles that could affect its growth plans.

 
  • Firstly, it is increasing trying to source non-conventional sources of energy such as hydro-electricity and wind energy. The Arunachal Pradesh Government has signed an Agreement with the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to set up 10,500 MW of hydropower capacity with an investment of around Rs 52,500 crore. According to some estimates, this is less than 2% of India’s total hydro power potential of from the north-eastern states as Arunachal Pradesh alone has a potential of around 50,000 MW. Wind Turbine manufacturers in India say that they registered a 45% rise in installed wind power capacity grew to 5,200 megawatt (MW) from 3,595 MW with Tamil Nadu contributing a bulk of this capacity addition of 870 MW.

  • Secondly, it is investing massively to explore gas within India and is already seeing good success. The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has revealed plans to invest Rs. 80,000 crore in national oil exploration and capacity expansion from 2007-2012. In the largest ever effort to attract foreign investment, India announced plans in February 2006 to offer 55 oil exploration blocks and 10 coal bed methane blocks. A consortium of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Reliance Industries, and Great Eastern Energy Corporation discovered 6 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves below the coal seams and plan to start commercial production of these blocks is from 2007.

  • Thirdly, it is buying large captive stakes in overseas oil and natural gas assets to guarantee its fossil fuel supply. In the recent past, the ONGC has invested USD 250 million in Sudan oil fields, revealed plans to expand its stake in Sakhalin, and also expressed interest in expanding investments in South America. In addition, India has signed exploration deals with Syria, Mauritius, Oman, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia.

  • Fourthly, it has signed a deal with the US for a civilian nuclear program so the percentage of power from nuclear fuel is increased dramatically and the dependence on fossil fuel reduced. Currently less than 1% of power needs come from nuclear fuel because of global embargo on India as punishment for its opposition to the discriminatory Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. While the US Congress and Senate have voted for the deal, a signoff is necessary from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Once those formalities and diplomatic understanding is established, India can start importing nuclear fuel to produce power and rely less on fossil fuels.

  • Fifthly, it is trying to get into a non-acrimonious partnership with China so they two nations can bid for global fossil fuel assets jointly. It has signed a framework with China but this initiative has seen very little success or activity.

  • Sixthly, it is trying to take advantage of global fuel refinery insufficiencies to evolve as a refinery hub. Striving for growth, the world consumes 81.8 million barrels of oil a day, which is expected to reach 105 million barrels by 2020. Tighter environmental laws have stopped the construction of new refineries in the US since 1976 even as the number of vehicles in the country continued to rise to 200 million consuming 11% of the world’s oil production. Thus a rising demand for energy, high price of oil, lack of US & EU investments in refinery has created a space for India, much like the business process outsourcing sector, to become the world’s choice destination for refining crude oil. Many industrial houses in India are seeing this as an opportunity to corner this space, since current installed capacities not being increased correspondingly by Western nations. Many large industrial houses are investing massive amounts of money to create a number of refineries by 2008. Reliance is building a USD 5-6 billion refinery that can handle 29 million tons next to the existing 33 million ton unit in Jamnagar. Essar Oil is building a 10 million ton unit at a cost of USD 2.4 billion. Public sector units (PSU) ONGC, Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum are planning refinery plants at Mangalore (Karnataka), Pradip (Orissa), and Vizag (Andhra Pradesh) respectively.

  • Seventhly, India is participating in several global technical consortiums to develop next generation coal, oil, nuclear, and thermonuclear plants. The United States has invited India to participate in a futuristic private-public project called the FutureGen that will build a coal-based power generation plant that will have zero carbon emissions at a cost of USD 950 million. The European Union and India are set to explore alternate sources of energy as envisaged by the recently-concluded First India-EU Business Conference on Energy. India joined 6 other nations to sign the International Thermonuclear Experiment Reactor (ITER) Agreement contributing 10% of project cost with manufactured equipment to develop a prototype reactor that will make atomic fusion the next major source of energy. India will lead a 7 nation collaborative project to define a futuristic fast reactor with closed nuclear fuel cycle capable of generating 300-500 GW nuclear energy.

  • Eighthly, India also strategic programs that will make it free it of fuel dependencies on other nations. The Fast Breeder Reactor and the Thorium based power project are two such classic examples. If India can get these projects to work, India will become a net fuel and power exporter.

While there are many positives in India’s strategy and efforts to assuage its excessive dependence on external sources of fuel, there are also many flaws in energy based policy making that need rectification:
 
  • The current blanket subsidies for kerosene, diesel, and LNG are being abused by many to adulterate petroleum, use as a substitute fuel, and profiteering purposes. India needs to remove these blanket subsidies and develop mechanisms where only below the poverty line population get access to these subsidies.

  • Political considerations are forcing oil companies to use their reserve cash to “cushion” global crude price rise. This is akin to selling crown jewels to throw a fest and most of this hidden subsidy is enjoyed by the wealthy and not the common man. India should not shackle the oil companies which are doing a tremendous job trying to meet India’s growing energy needs through politics-based policies that are unsustainable.

  • The country needs to create better subsidies for those who adopt non-conventional energy such as solar and wind power as the existing mechanisms are cumbersome and time consuming. Further, the nation needs a policy which will require all multiple dwelling units or consumers beyond a prescribed limit use solar or wind power during the day or to substitute that source for their lighting needs.

  • India needs to encourage more research in non-conventional sources. India has the 2nd largest scientific population in the world and this is something policy-makers need to leverage to address its development needs.

  • To reduce oil usage, urban areas should have better traffic plans so vehicles are not stalled or stopped burning fossil fuels waiting for the traffic to move. India should also phase out older vehicles and specifically fuel-inefficient trucks and buses so the consumption levels and environmental impact is lessened.

 

Internal Initiatives

  • ONGC Unveils Massive Investments
    To fund expected growth, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) unveiled plans to invest Rs. 130,000 crore (USD 28.2 billion) from 2007-2012 in oil and gas exploration, overseas acquisition of captive resource assets, and expansion of infrastructure.

  • Two More Mega Power Projects
    Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that India would add two more 4000-megawatt (MW) mega power projects one each for Andhra Pradesh and Orissa each costing about USD 3.6 billion using a private-public investment vehicle. .

  • ONGC Reveals Major Expansion Plans
    The State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) announced plans to create a mammoth 45.5 million tons (mt) refining capacity at a cost of USD 12.5 billion that will spur it closer to its vision of being a global player by 2009-10.

  • India will be World’s Refinery Hub
    Rising demand for energy, high price of oil, lack of US & EU investments in refinery has created a space for India, much like the business process outsourcing sector, to become the world’s choice destination for refining crude oil.

  • Energy Deficit India Sparks Mega Projects
    Energy deficiency in India is seeing large investments in mega projects in refinery, pipeline installations, new power generation projects, power line grid deployment, and even private sector nuclear plants.

  • Large Gas Reserve Find
    A consortium of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Reliance Industries, and Great Eastern Energy Corporation discovered 6 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves below the coal seams.

  • Govt Plans More Power Plants
    The Federal Power Ministry unveiled ambitious plans to create several ultra mega power plants that can generate 4000 mega watts (mw) at the cost of Rs.150 billion each.

 

Reforms & Liberalization

  • Commies Say No to Oil Price Hike
    Buoyed by the exit polls that predicted an ultra-left victory in state elections, the communists vowed to stop the Government from hiking oil prices that could force oil companies to absorb a loss of over USD 16.5 billion or $13.5 billion for the exchequer.

  • Sharp Increase in Wind Power Generation
    Turbine manufacturers in India say that they registered a 45% rise in installed wind power capacity grew to 5,200 megawatt (MW) from 3,595 MW with Tamil Nadu contributing a bulk of this capacity addition of 870 MW.

  • New Petro & Gas Regulatory Authority
    Petroleum Minister Murli Deora introduced a new Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board Bill in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of the Parliament) to create a new regulator of downstream petroleum and natural gas investments.

  • Largest Oil Exploration Tranche
    In the largest ever tranche, India will offer 55 oil blocks, mostly offshore, covering 300000 square kilometers for exploration.

  • Govt Approves New Oil Project
    The Government authorized the creation of a strategic oil reserve project under the control of the federal Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB).

 

Research, Development, and Collaboration

  • 7 Nation Futuristic Nuclear Reactor
    Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) Director at Kalpakkam Baldev Raj has been elected Chairman of a 7 nation collaborative project to define a futuristic fast reactor with closed nuclear fuel cycle capable of generating 300-500 GW nuclear energy.

  • India Signs ITER Agreement
    India joined 6 other nations to sign the International Thermonuclear Experiment Reactor (ITER) Agreement contributing 10% of project cost with manufactured equipment to develop a prototype reactor that will make atomic fusion the next major source of energy.

  • Indo-EU Energy Initiative
    On the heals of US and India announcing Indian participation in FutureGen project, the European and India are set to explore alternate sources of energy as envisaged by the recently-concluded First India-EU Business Conference on Energy.

  • India & US in Futuristic Energy Project
    The United States has invited India to participate in a futuristic private-public project, called the FutureGen that will build a coal-based power generation plant that will have zero carbon emissions at a cost of USD 950 million.

  • India, China Sign Oil and Gas Framework
    Federal Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said that India and China signed a framework that would allow state-owned oil and gas companies can evolve and submit joint bids for acquisition of assets overseas.

 

External Investments

  • Consultant to Fix IPI Gas Rate
    Disagreeing over the price of gas over the USD 7 billion 2100 kilometer Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline, India, Pakistan and Iran agreed to try one last time to break the impasse by appointing an international consultant to recommend a pricing plan.

  • India Buys Power from Bhutan
    India signed an agreement with Bhutan to buy power from the 1020 megawatt (MW) Tala hydro-electric project, the largest bilateral cooperation project funded by India in a foreign country, which is also the framework for future hydro-electric cooperation.

  • Iran Gas Deal is “Difficult”
    India’s grand plans to source gas from Iran to meet its energy needs has been shattered with Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki saying there were “difficulties” in honoring the USD 22 billion contract to see Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

  • Lanka Allots Oil Blocks for India, China
    For the first time ever, the Sri Lankan Government has invited India and China to explore for oil in two of the seven blocks identified for exploration along its sea belt on a “nomination” basis which means that the two nations will not have to bid on tenders.

  • Gail Consortium Signs Oman Deal
    A Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) led consortium signed the Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement (EPSA) with The Government of the Sultanate of Oman for Block 56 last week for exploration and production of hydrocarbons.

  • India wants TAPI
    With a dead-on-arrival Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, India signaled strong interest in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project that will transport natural gas for a severely energy deficient and rapidly expanding India.

  • Uzbek Allows Indian Oil Exploration
    India and Uzbekistan reached a landmark deal where the latter will allow Indian companies to explore for natural gas that can then be shared equally.

  • ONGC Pitches Brazil Stake
    In a first ever foray into Brazil, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has pitched to acquire a 30% stake in the Campos Basin oilfield valued at USD 400 million.

  • Suzlon Buys Hansen for USD 656 for Wind Energy
    Suzlon Energy Limited, makers of windmills, announced the acquisition of the second largest wind energy and industrial gear box maker, Belgium-based Hansen Transmissions International NV for USD 565 million.

  • Indo-Mauritius Hydrocarbon MoU
    India and Mauritius signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore for hydrocarbons off Mauritius.

  • ONGC, Mittal Energy JV?
    Indian oil major Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) revealed plans to start a joint venture with steel baron Lakshmi Mittal to buy energy stakes around the work valued at USD 15 billion.

  • Kalam to Iron out Myanmar Gas Deal
    President Abdul Kalam is traveling to Myanmar and would try to further the natural gas deal with that country now stalled because of unsure transport mechanism.

  • US asks India Reconsider Syrian Investment
    The United States submitted an aide mémoire seeking India to reconsider its decision to invest in a Syrian oilfield.

  • ONGC Invests 250 m in Sudan
    ONGC Videsh Limited and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) have teamed up to invest USD 350 million in a 500 megawatt (MW) project in Sudan.

  • China Make Kazakh Oil Bid
    China's top offshore oil producer Cnooc is making a bid for obscure Canada based Nations Energy whose main asset is a 50000 barrels a day in Kazakhstan.

 

   

 

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