Low price realisation hampering gas exploration in India: Moily

The low prices set by the government for natural gas is impeding higher investments in the petroleum sector and the country's quest for energy security, minister for petroleum and natural gas Veerappa Moily said.

He also justified the recent cabinet decision to hike the price of domestically-produced natural gas, saying it will make exploration of natural gas commercially viable.

''Should we pay $6.83 per unit to produce gas domestically or import it at much higher price. This is the decision we will have to make,'' Moily asked while speaking at the National Convention on Oil & Gas 2013 in Mumbai on Friday.

''Around 3 trillion cubic feet of discovered natural gas in the country is lying unutilised as it is considered not viable to commercially exploit the reserves at prevailing rate of $4.2 (per million metric cubic metres),'' the minister said.

''The government needs to take bold decisions and should not be bogged down by the fear of CBI or CAG,'' he said, adding, that there was an urgent need to end bureaucratic delays as well. ''Process should not dominate; instead the focus should be on delivery''.

Moily said he has asked the oil and gas PSUs to step up capital expenditure to boost capacity, adding that he will hold a meeting with oil PSUs executives shortly to review their investment road map.

The minister also indicated that the government would soon introduce an Open Acreage Licensing Policy to facilitate faster exploration.

Moily wanted state-owned oil companies to aggressively seek acquisition of oil and gas assets abroad, including Iran, Kazakstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.

The National Convention on Oil & Gas, organised by the India-Tech Foundation, aims to discuss strategies for development and redevelopment of marginal fields and management of 'brown fields' with the aim of helping to accelerate the growth of hydro-carbon sector in India.