EXCLUSIVE India presses Qatar for delayed LNG as power crisis mounts -sources

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A general view of electricity pylons in Mumbai, India, October 13, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

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NEW DELHI, Oct 18 (Reuters) - India, grappling with its worst power crisis in five years, has asked Qatar to expedite delivery of 58 delayed liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Asia's third largest economy is suffering its worst power shortage since March 2016 due to a crippling coal shortage amid high global energy prices.

Infrastructure maintenance at supplier Qatargas prevented it from delivering 50 LNG cargoes to India this year, the sources said, prompting India's oil ministry last week to write a letter seeking delivery of those cargoes.

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The ministry is also seeking eight additional cargoes which were delayed last year at New Delhi's request after COVID-induced lockdowns lowered demand for the super-cooled fuel, they said.

The sources declined to be named as they are not authorised to speak to media.

India's top gas importer, Petronet LNG (PLNG.NS), has long-term deals to buy 7.5 million tonnes per year (mtpa) of LNG from Qatar and 1.44 mtpa from Exxon's Gorgon project in Australia.

LNG under those long-term deals costs about $11-$12 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), versus more than $38 per mmBtu on Asia's spot gas market currently and a record high of over $56 hit earlier this month. read more

Indian customers in August started deferring imports of spot LNG due to high prices, Petronet LNG CEO A.K. Singh said at the time.

He said the Indian power sector reduces its intake of LNG once prices rise above about $10/mmBtu.

India has 24 gigawatts (GW) of gas-fired power generation capacity of which about 14 GW has been stranded for more than 10 years due to non-availability of gas, while the remaining plants are operating at very low capacity.

India's oil ministry, Qatargas and its parent company Qatar Energy did not respond to Reuters emails seeking comment.

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Additional reporting by Marwa Rashad in London; editing by Jason Neely

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