Panel report on gas pricing is investment enabling: RIL

Panel report on gas pricing is investment enabling: RIL New Delhi: Reliance Industries has said that Rangarajan panel mandating doubling of price of domestically produced natural gas to USD 8 per mmBtu will create an "investment enabling environment".

RIL, which had been engaged in protracted wrangling with the Oil Ministry on pricing of natural gas from its eastern offshore KG-D6 field, said there was "positive traction in domestic exploration and production business environment with the submission of Rangarajan Committee Report".

The panel had addressed key issues on "gas price mechanism" and created "an investment enabling environment", RIL said in investor presentation on its October-December quarter results.

RIL has since been seeking a price of almost USD 13 per million British thermal unit for gas produced from KG-D6 gas on expiry of current USD 4.2 per mmBtu price in April next year and its comments on Rangarajan Committee recommendation are being seen as its readiness to accept a lower price.

The company, which had previously stated that USD 4.2 was too low for monetising smaller and marginal gas finds in KG-D6 and other blocks, said the Rangarajan panel recommendation "indicates positive sign for monetization of marginal fields".

The Rangarajan Committee last month suggested pricing of domestically produced natural gas at an average of international hub prices and cost of imported LNG instead of present mechanism of a bid-based market discovery of the rate.

The panel suggested averaging volume-weighted price of gas at US's Henry Hub, UK's NBP and Japan Customs Cleared prices for the trailing 12 months with the the net price that producer got from exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India on a long-term contract.

Taking last year's publicly available consumption numbers and the prevailing price of gas in the three markets, the formula suggested by the Rangarajan committee gives just over USD 8 per mmBtu as the price of domestic gas.

This is more than USD 4.2-5.73 per mmBtu price currently prevalent in the country.

RIL gets USD 4.2 per mmBtu for the gas it produces from eastern offshore KG-D6. This price was mandated for first five years of production and is due to expire on March 31, 2014.

From April 2014, the company wanted to price KG-D6 gas at the rate India pays for importing gas in its liquid form (called LNG) on a long-term contract from Qatar. India pays 12.67 percent of the international oil rate plus USD 0.26 per mmBtu to Qatar. At USD 100 per barrel oil rate, this translated into a gas price of USD 12.93.

The panel headed by C Rangarajan -- Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister -- suggested gas-on-gas competition after five years.

"Government is moving towards aligning Indian gas prices with international markets which will act as a bridge for gas on gas competition in the future," RIL said.

PTI