India in Talks with Russia to Swap Natural Gas with China

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Credit: Glen Dillon / CC BY 3.0

India is nearly 81% dependent on oil and is looking to increase its gas consumption towards a gas-based economy. Towards this endeavour, India is reportedly in early talks with Russia to swap natural gas with China and Myanmar to building a proposed pipeline to carry gas from Russian Siberia.

ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL), Managing Director, Narendra K. Verma told reporters on the sidelines of the Petrotech conference about Myanmar selling gas to China through an already existing pipeline. He added that if Russia would provide equivalent gas to China, then the flow of gas could be reversed from Myanmar to China and the gas could be brought to India. The two countries had reportedly signed an initial pact in October for building a 4,500 km to 6,000 km long pipeline from Siberia to India, which is estimated at USD 25 billion.

Verma told that talks were on with Russian state-run gas monopoly, Gazprom, for the alternative swap. The swap would need a smaller pipeline requirement, and could be built from Myanmar into eastern India for importing the gas. This would be more economical and would require co-operation of China and Myanmar.

The alternative routes considered for importing of the gas are: Russia-to-India pipeline through Himalayas into Northern India (which apparently poses technical challenges), the pipeline through Central Asian nations like, Iran, Pakistan into Western India (the route is considered expensive), the Iran-Pakistan-India route would be cheaper, and the longest alternative would be to lay a pipeline through China and Myanmar into North East and bypass Bangladesh.

According to EIL, the cost of transporting gas could be $12 per million British thermal unit. Industry experts project a realistic transportation cost could be USD 4 per mmBtu for the Russia-India gas pipeline, which excludes the transit fee to be paid to nations through which the pipeline will pass.

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