GAIL to partner French energy giant EDF in hunt for US shale gas assets

State-run gas pipeline transporter Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL), which was yesterday granted Maharatna status, said that it will join forces with a unit of French energy giant EDF to jointly bid for natural gas assets in the US in order to meet the country's growing demand.

Ahead of a 10-day visit to the US beginning today with oil minister Veerappa Moily, B C Tripathi, chairman of GAIL said that the company would today sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in New York with EDF Trading for acquisition of gas assets.

The MoU would also include the London-based French firm investing in downstream trading and marketing venture in India.

The Maharatna status will enable GAIL to take investment decision of around $900 million without seeking prior approval from the government.

The move comes six months after GAIL failed to sign a 20-year deal worth $12 billion to import 2 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas annually from the US east coast as talks faltered over pricing issues.

Rising demand and falling production has created a 40-per cent shortfall in gas supplies in the country that is compounded by production problems at the Reliance Industries-operated D6 block at the Krishna-Godaveri basin off the country's east coast.