New Delhi: Emphasizing the need to accord due priority to the development of a countrywide gas pipeline, President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said the government is working towards extending fiscal incentives similar to those provided for exploration of oil to all forms of natural gas exploration and exploitation.
President Mukherjee said the government's top priority is to realize the full potential of coal bed methane, shale gas, underground coal gas, gas hydrates, and bio-fuels in the present climate of rapid changes in the hydrocarbons sector.
" Government of India is also currently extending full support to companies acquiring overseas oil and gas assets and imports of LNG," he added.
In his inaugural address at Petrotech 2012, President Mukherjee said discoveries of new oil and gas reserves in the recent past in India have been encouraging.
The President pointed out that Government of India's New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) launched in 1997-98 has seen investment of over USD 14 billion and has resulted in 87 oil and gas discoveries. "NELP has all the ingredients of a favourable investment climate, fiscal stability, transparency of the rule of law, contract stability, minimal policy induced uncertainties and a stable legal and regulatory framework," he added.
President Mukherjee pointed out that the Indian Oil and Gas industry, in the last decade, has seen a robust growth in domestic production.
"The refining sector in India, too, has witnessed a silent revolution. India has, over the years, developed into a major export hub. With a refining capacity of 215 million metric tonnes per annum, exports of petroleum products have now crossed 60 million tonnes, fetching revenue of close to USD 60 billion. It has emerged as the single largest component of merchandise exports from India," he said.
Emphasizing the fact that India's oil industry has been able to meet targets for introduction of improved quality fuels, President Mukherjee said: "This has had a salutary effect on the ambient air quality in our cities. Another significant step by the oil industry towards reducing pollution and improving the environment is substitution of petroleum products with Natural Gas. As of 31st March 2012, 776 CNG stations are providing CNG to approximately 1.7 million vehicles in 10 States of India."
"Virtually, the entire public transport in Delhi is currently running on CNG. Further, Oil Companies are supplying natural gas to approximately 1.9 million households," he added.
President Mukherjee said that it would be imperative to ensure better demand management in the country for a GDP growth of over eight percent during India's XII plan.
"In the present international environment of rising petroleum prices, greater alignment of prices to global prices is in the interest of both consumers as well as investors. Government of India is committed to adopt a time-bound programme to achieve this. I expect the industry to play a helpful role in achieving the Government's objectives," said President Mukherjee.
"There must be increased understanding of the fact that the path to a more sustainable future will require our society to make a better balance between its energy consumption vis a vis its cost and availability," he added.
President Mukherjee also congratulated the Petrotech Society for their contribution to the development of the hydrocarbon sector in India and its integration with the global hydrocarbon industry. (ANI)