Friday, December 6, 2013

Notes on Indian Gas Policy framework and KG-D6

I have been trying to keep up with developments happening on oil and gas industry front in India for quite some time now. Here, for the benefit of my readers, I am posting copy of my notes on the Indian gas policy and KG-D6 controversy. Although these notes are not comprehensive (I have to work harder), but may give a beginner some headway in the Indian oil and gas industry policy and development space.
Brief summary of evolution of Gas Policy in India 
Gas received policymakers’ attention after the discovery of the offshore Bombay High fields by ONGC, from which production began in 1974. 
  • By 1984, the government realized the need for a gas distribution network, and set up a separate state-owned company, the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), to develop one.
  • In the 1990s, as public sector exploration companies failed to make further gas discoveries, the government auctioned off fields that had been ‘discovered’ but not fully developed by NOCs, to joint ventures between private companies and NOCs under production sharing agreements.
  • An upstream regulator, the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), was set up in 1993.
  • In 1998, the government launched a new regime, the New Exploration Licensing Policy or NELP which was based on PSAs, pitched at greater private and international participation.
  • Under the first eight rounds, 234 contracts were signed.
  • The ninth round was launched in October 2010. However, bidders have predominantly been domestic private sector companies, and not international companies.
  • India also began importing LNG in 2004; it should be noted that, particularly in fertilizers, there was a demand for LNG despite high prices, as prices of the competing input, naphtha were very high.
  • In May 2010, the price of ‘administered’ gas was more than doubled from its previously subsidized level; from US$ 1.8 per mmbtu to US$ 4.2 per mmbtu.
  • Between 2005 and 2010, APM gas prices remained frozen, with state-owned companies and the Federal government taking on the burden of subsidies. 
Gas Pricing Framework
There are three kinds of gas pricing regimes existing in India:
  1. Gas prices based on Administered Pricing Mechanism (APM) for those gas reserves before NELP. This was around $2.50/mmbtu and was raised later to $4.2/mmbtu.
  2. Import prices paid to LNG imports which depend on international prices which were as high as $16/mmbtu and 
  3. Arm’s length price based on market for those gas reserves discovered after NELP. For Krishna Godavari basin the government has fixed gas price at a level of $4.20/mmbtu.
KG-D6 Controversy
  • The $4.2 price was fixed by Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) led by then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee (now President of India) in 2007 and was fixed for 5 years (till Mar 31, 2014).
  • RIL’s position is that gas produced from KG-D6 was priced competitively in 2007 but does not reflect the market conditions in 2012. So, RIL is seeking a revision to this price
  • Govt invoked the PSC to deny the RIL- BP approvals for 2012-13 budget and recovery of around $1 billion from sale of gas from KG-D6
  • PSC Allows govt to conduct audit either through its own representatives or through chartered accountants.
  • Petroleum Ministry says approval for budget and work programmes will come after CAG is given the access to records
  • RIL maintains that nothing in the PSC permits an audit of operational, commercial and technical decisions of the operator
  • The company also maintains that PSC contains no provision that restricts cost recovery through reference to factors like the production level or the extent to which field facilities are utilised.
  • RIL attributed the fall in production to the unexpected geology of the area, adding data had established drilling more wells would not have helped.
  • RIL says the next stage of its exploration plan for enhancing production is dependent on government approvals. And, it would take four to five years after the approvals for production to rise.
  • R S Sharma, former chairman and MD of ONGC (state owned E&P), said it is unfair to withhold approvals, adding RIL does not fall under the purview of CAG. “Decisions in E&P are taken in stages. Characteristics of each block are different, and decisions have to be taken on a case-to-case basis. It is a complex business. It is not like processing, or even the mining industry”.
  • Gas output from KG-D6, which peaked to 61.5 mscmd in March 2010 and was set to rise to 80 mscmd by April 2012, has been declining.
  • Many believe production is being allowed to fall, as RIL is stuck with a gas price of $4.2 a million British thermal unit till 2014.
  • Govt constitutes Rangarajan Committee to resolve gas pricing, profit sharing issues. .
  • Rangarajan committee recommends average global prices for domestic gas
  • Expected gas price revision is unlikely to benefit Reliance Industries. The clauses in the Cabinet note will not make RIL eligible for any price hike before April 2014.
You can find a compehensive list of all news items that appeared in several newspapers on KG-D6 controversy here.

1 comment:

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