Despite major new natural gas discoveries in recent years, India continues to plan on gas imports to meet its future needs. According to Oil and Gas Journal, India had approximately 38 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven natural gas reserves as of January 2011.
EIA estimates that India produced approximately 1.8 Tcf of natural gas in 2010, a 63 percent increase over 2008 production levels.
The bulk of India's natural gas production comes from the western offshore regions, especially the Mumbai High complex, though fields in the Krishna-Godavari (KG) are increasingly important.
In 2010, India consumed roughly 2.3 Tcf of natural gas, more than 750 billion cubic feet (Bcf) more than in 2008, according to EIA estimates. Natural gas demand is expected to grow considerably, largely driven by demand in the power sector. The power and fertilizer sectors account for nearly three-quarters of natural gas consumption in India. Natural gas is expected to be an increasingly important component of energy consumption as the country pursues energy resource diversification and overall energy security.
Despite the steady increase in India's natural gas production, demand has outstripped supply and the country has been a net importer of natural gas since 2004. India's net imports reached an estimated 429 billion cubic feet (Bcf) in 2010.
State-owned companies play a predominant role in India's gas sector, although their share of production is smaller than in the oil sector. ONGC accounted for about half of India's natural gas production in 2009-2010. Reliance Industries will also have a greater role in the natural gas sector in the coming years, as a result of a large natural gas find in 2002 in the KG basin. In June 2011, the Indian government approved a $7.2 billion joint venture agreement between Reliance and BP that will focus on expanding offshore development.
Natural gas prices in India are regulated by the government. Administered Pricing Mechanism (APM) natural gas – gas produced from fields handed to ONGC and OIL by the Indian government – more than doubled in price in May 2010; from $1.8/million (MM) Btu to $4.2/MMbtu, although some customers still receive subsidies. Prices for privately produced gas, which are indexed to the price of oil, are slightly higher.
The Gas Authority of India Ltd. (GAIL) holds an effective monopoly on natural gas transmission and distribution activities. Although the transmission sector was opened to foreign investment in 2006, 80 percent of natural gas consumed in India was transported through GAIL's 4,100-mile trunk pipeline network. The company expects to double the size of this network by 2014. Reliance Industries is also investing heavily in the transmission sector to move its KG-basin gas to market.