WITH QATARTODAY, INDIA’S LEADING EXPERT ON ENERGY ISSUES, TALKS ABOUT INDO-QATAR TIES AND EXPLAINS WHY COUNTRIES CAN’T MOVE AWAY FROM FOSSIL FUELS “OVERNIGHT”.
BY UDAYAN NAG
During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Qatar last month, as many as seven agreements were signed between the two nations. The deals inked included issues related to money laundering and terrorism financing. An MoU was signed between the Financial Intelligence UnitIndia (FIU-IND) and Qatar Financial Information Unit to share intelligence on illegal movement of money.
In addition, Qatar was invited to invest in India’s exploration and production sector under the new “Hydrocarbon Exploration & Licensing” and “Discovered Small Fields” policies.
With the drop in oil prices in the Middle East, Qatar has in fact been focusing lately on developing its renewable sources of energy – solar, water and wind; it has also been moving towards non-hydrocarbons. What does that mean for India in the near and distant future?
“We are very keen to deepen our hydrocarbon ties with Qatar as we are gradually moving in the direction of a natural gas economy,” says Taneja. “When it comes to meeting natural gas requirements in the country, we have no alternative but to import more of it. Right now, LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) seems to be the only option available in terms of exports and imports. We want to import more LNG from Qatar, and would also like Qatari natural gas companies to come and invest in India, e.g., gas pipeline construction, gas distribution in the country, etc. Same goes for oil, wherever the options and possibilities are available.”
Qatar is India’s largest supplier of LNG requirements. At the end of last year, Petronet LNG signed a renegotiated deal with RasGas, which means it will pay the Qatari enterprise $6 to $7 per million thermal units, instead of $13 million, which was earlier agreed upon. The deal saves Petronet $605 million a year. What kind of benefits can India continue to derive from Qatar as far as LNG dealings are concerned?
“India is not the only country which renegotiated the LNG agreement. China did the same, and maybe other countries followed suit. These business deals are not cast in iron. The LNG prices had dropped the world over, which had to be renegotiated. It was renegotiated because we committed to purchase more LNG from Qatar.”
Taneja is also of the view that a longterm assessment needs to be made with regard to India’s energy requirements. According to him, the country’s demand for fossil fuels is going to grow drastically over the next 30-40 years. He, however, goes on to say: “India is the headquarters of the International Solar Alliance. We plan to go for 175,000 megawatts of renewable energy over the next five to six years, which includes 100,000 megawatts of solar (energy) alone. India will become more and more dependent on renewable energy and nuclear power; but that will happen in the distant future, sometime around 2070. Until then, we need more natural gas so that we can reach a stage where we can totally depend on solar and nuclear power, and other green sources of energy.”
But can India actually play an active role in Qatar’s renewable energy programmes by getting companies and organisations back home to collaborate with the Gulf country?
“Absolutely! Our ambition is to be a renewable energy superpower,” says Taneja. “But, this is going to take time. It will take 20-25 years, if not more. We are working in that direction; building partnerships and relationships with the US, Germany, Mexico, the African countries and also