In a move aimed at ensuring India’s energy security, the Narendra Modi-led government plans to import huge volumes of natural gas from Russia. The Centre is working out the contours of a $40-billion (Rs 2.4 lakh-crore) mega onland pipeline project carrying gas from Russia to India, in one of India’s biggest energy projects till date.
Top government officials told HT that the move follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Brazil on the sidelines of the Brics summit.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) along with the ministry of petroleum and natural gas are preparing a blueprint to examine the feasibility of this new project, they added.
An announcement on this initiative is expected to be made in December when the two leaders meet at the India-Russia annual summit to be held in New Delhi.
China has already finalised a similar gas pipeline deal with Moscow for importing gas. New Delhi, sources said, also plans to import crude oil from Moscow and the logistics for the same are being worked out.
“Russia so far has directed majority of its oil and gas supplies to the West… however, the scenario may be quiet different in the coming years especially in the wake of its gas pipeline to China and the one now proposed till India,” a senior oil ministry official said.
Two routes are being considered for the gas pipeline project. One is from Russia’s southern border to India via the Himalayas and the second from Russia - Astrakhan - Khazakstan — Uzbekistan and then along the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan route to India (TAPI gas pipeline).
The proposed project from Russia to India is almost four times the cost of the $10-billion (or Rs. 60,000-crore) Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, also called the peace pipeline, which has failed to take off due to security concerns over the pipeline traversing through Pakistan and has been on the drawing board for the past many years.
“This government (under Modi) is taking all steps that will lead to a reduction in India’s oil import bill... apart from this proposed pipeline, reviving and pushing the other two projects — IPI and TAPI are also being looked into at the highest level,” he added.
The cost of the other onland gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan (or the TAPI) project is also close to $8-10 billion.
GAIL India Ltd will be associated with this project along with a consortium of other state-owned oil and gas companies including Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), Oil India Ltd and Indian Oil, the official said.