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India fourth largest energy consumer in the world: Report

March 19, 2013 12:26 IST

With its rising energy needs, India has emerged as the fourth largest energy consumer of the world after the US, China and Russia, but its per capita energy consumption remains lower than that of developed countries, says a report.

"India is the fourth largest energy consumer in the world after the United States, China, and Russia," the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its latest report (for 2011) on energy outlook for India released in Washington on Monday.

According to the report, India was the fourth largest consumer of oil and petroleum products in the world in 2011, after the US, China, and Japan.

The country depends heavily on imported crude oil, mostly from the Middle East, it added.

India, it said, had 5.5 billion barrels of proved oil reserves at the end of 2012, mostly in the western part of the country.

Domestic production has stagnated in recent years, and Indian national oil companies increasingly purchase equity stakes in overseas oil fields, it said.

Indian government promotes the country's refining sector, and India became a net exporter of petroleum products in 2001.

India has several world-class refineries in Jamnagar, and the refining industry is largely privately owned, it said.

Natural gas, according to the report, serves as a substitute for coal for electricity generation in India.

The country began importing liquefied natural gas from Qatar in 2004 and increasingly relies on imports to meet domestic natural gas needs.

India had 43.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves at the end of 2012, mostly located offshore. The two biggest state-owned oil companies, ONGC and Oil India, dominate the country's upstream gas sector, the report said.

According to EIA, India became the world's sixth largest liquefied natural gas importer in 2011. Indian companies have begun investing in new regasification facilities to meet rising demand.

Noting that Coal is India's primary source of energy, it said the country has the world's fifth largest coal reserves.

The State retains a near-monopoly on the coal sector. The power sector makes up the majority of coal consumption.

India has 211 gigawatts of installed electricity capacity, mostly in coal-powered plants.

Because of insufficient fuel supply, the country suffers from a severe shortage of electricity generation, leading to rolling blackouts, the report said.

The Indian government may not be able to deliver secure supplies to meet demand because of fuel subsidies, increasing import dependency, and inconsistent energy sector reform, the report said.

It said some parts of the energy sector, such as coal production, remain relatively closed to private and foreign investment.

In early 2013, India's petroleum minister Veerappa Moily announced that the ministry would work on an action plan to make India energy independent by 2030, the report said.

This would be through increased hydrocarbon production, unconventional resources such as coalbed methane and shale, foreign acquisitions by domestic Indian companies, and reduced subsidies on motor fuels.

"These actions either increase India's energy supply or lower demand," the report said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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