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In a bid to diversify portfolio, state-owned gas utility GAIL India Ltd has imported its first shipload of LNG at rival Royal Dutch Shell's Hazira terminal in Gujarat.
GAIL, which part-owns Petronet LNG that operates 10 million tonnes Dahej terminal in Gujarat and operates 5 million tonnes a year capacity Dabhol plant in Maharashtra, last weekend imported a cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) at Hazira.
The company previously imported all the LNG it bought from overseas either at Dahej or at Dabhol.
"We couldn't import at Dahej since it was facing haulage problem so we decided to use Hazira terminal," a top GAIL official said.
This is the first time since India started importing LNG in January 2004 that GAIL, the nation's largest gas marketing and transmission firm, has used a privately operated terminal for imports.
The cargo imported a Hazira came from French energy giant GDF Suez which whom GAIL had in 2012 signed a term contract to buy 0.8 million tonnes of LNG.
"If our customers need gas, we are open to using Hazira more often," the official said.
GAIL, he said, is also talking to Shell for buying LNG on a short-term contract. "The talks are still on but nothing has been finalised."
The company is aggressively scouting for LNG the world over to meet the nation's growing gas demand, which is expected to grow from 58 billion cubic metres in 2012 to 220 billion cubic metres in 2020, representing a compounded annual growth rate of over 18 per cent.
It had in August 2012 signed a contract with GDF bot buy 12 cargoes or shiploads (0.8 mn tonnes) from 2013 to 2014.
GDF supplied six cargoes of LNG in 2013 beginning January and an equal number are to come in 2014. It supplies one cargo once in two months, most probably from its Yemen portfolio.
The price of LNG would be linked to prevailing oil rates. GAIL had previously roped in GDF Suez for a 3.5 million tonnes a year floating LNG import terminal it plans to set up off the east coast. The French firm would have 26 per cent stake in the project.
GDF, which holds 10 per cent stake in Petronet LNG Ltd, had in November 2011 agreed to supply 9 cargoes of LNG to the nation's largest liquefied natural gas importer (Petronet).
GAIL as well as Indian Oil Corp (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corp ( BPCL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corp ( ONGC) hold 12.5 per cent stake each in Petronet.
GAIL has been expanding its global presence to secure gas supplies. It had earlier signed a 20 year Sales and Purchase Agreement with Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC, a unit of Cheniere EnergyPartners, USA for supply of 3.5 million tonnes per year of LNG beginning 2017.
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