TOKYO -- India's imports of liquefied natural gas could reach about 30 million tons in 2020 -- a roughly 60% increase from last year -- Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told The Nikkei on a recent trip to Japan.
The country imported about 19 million tons of LNG in 2016, making it the world's fourth-largest consumer, behind Japan, South Korea and China. India's energy consumption is only expected to rise as its economy grows.
"Ultimately, gas is the cheapest commodity" when taking the environmental impact into account, Pradhan said.
He is pushing for the creation of another 11 million tons in annual receiving capacity. It is "not difficult" for Indian LNG imports to reach 30 million tons by 2020, he said.
China is expected to overtake Japan as the world's largest importer of LNG in 2030, and some expect India to also rise to No. 3. The energy market faces a major shift in terms of both supply and demand.
Pradhan said he met with executives from Osaka Gas as well as JERA, a joint venture between Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings and Chubu Electric Power. They likely discussed a possible swap deal on LNG. The minister also visited an LNG receiving base at Tepco's Higashi Ohgishima power plant.
India and Japan consume "40% of the world's LNG," noted Pradhan, who said they will work to "create a progressive gas market in the Asian subcontinent." He was particularly interested in joining hands toward more flexible contracts so that importing countries can resell LNG.
The Japanese and Indian governments signed a memorandum Wednesday to cooperate in LNG.