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”.

Qatar Today - - ENERGY -

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

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