(Corrects name of company executive in second paragraph)
KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 (Reuters) - India's GAIL (India) Ltd has around $1 billion to spend on shale gas assets in North America, which will act as a hedge against planned imports of U.S. liquefied natural gas, a company executive said on Thursday.
"We need gas, so equity gas is also required," Prabhat Singh, director marketing of GAIL India, told reporters on the sidelines of the World Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur.
GAIL signed a deal with U.S.-based Cheniere Energy in December to buy 3.5 million tonnes of LNG a year under a 20-year contract starting from 2017.
It has also been in talks with Macquarie Energy, which has a share in the U.S.-based Freeport LNG project, and last year, agreed to buy a 20-percent stake in one of Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc's U.S. shale gas assets for $300 million.
India, Asia's third-largest economy, is already the world's eight-largest importer of LNG. Those imports could rise five-fold in the next decade as its domestic gas output falls and demand surges. (Reporting by Luke Pachymuthu and Rebekah Kebede; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Ed Davies)