India's Petronet expects to boost LNG imports up to 15 percent in FY2019

HOUSTON (Reuters) - India’s leading gas importer Petronet LNG expects its liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports to rise by up to 15 percent this fiscal year from a year ago once an expansion at its largest terminal is completed, the company’s top official said on Thursday.

Natural gas is projected to double as a share of India’s energy mix by 2030 as oil-fired power plants convert to natgas, while pipelines are being built to expand the fuel’s use in the residential and transportation sectors. The pace of growth largely depends on how quickly gas infrastructure is completed, Indian energy officials have said.

Petronet’s LNG imports are expected to rise to around 22 million to 23 million tonnes per year (tpy) in the fiscal year ending March 2020, up from just under 20 million tpy last year, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Prabhat Singh told Reuters on the sidelines of the CERAWeek conference in Houston.

In February, Petronet LNG inked an initial deal with Tellurian Inc to invest in its proposed Driftwood project in Louisiana in the United States.

“There is so much gas available in the U.S. and it is available at very cheap prices, we’re trying to see if we can acquire that,” Singh said.

Gas demand in “India is going to see a fillip now. What we were lacking was an increase in customer base and infrastructure needs to come up,” Singh said, adding that national gas grid pipelines and city gas infrastructure are being built while intercity trucks and buses could switch to natural gas in the future.

The capacity of Petronet’s Dahej terminal in western Gujarat state is being expanded to 17.5 million tpy from 15 million tpy. The company also operates a 5 million tpy terminal at Kochi in southern Kerala state.

Reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by David Gregorio