RPI Author Sudha Mahalingam on India’s Energy Policies
Sudha Mahalingam, a participant in the RPI Worldviews of Aspiring Powers project, an independent energy analyst, and former member of India’s Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board, wrote a pair of recent op-eds in The Hindu on India’s energy policies.
In these articles, she discusses the Indian government’s efforts to meet its rising energy security goals through the acquisition of global fossil fuel supplies and pricing schemes on natural gas to incentivise domestic gas production.
Earlier this month, she wrote that India’s overseas oil assets would require better legal and managerial support if these efforts hope to contribute to energy security:
“Many necessary and sufficient conditions must be satisfied before equity oil of our national oil companies translates into energy security. Firstly, not all assets in which OVL has invested are producing assets. Exploratory acreages can contribute to India’s energy security only if and when there is an exploitable, viable discovery of hydrocarbons.
Secondly, even in the case of producing fields, equity participation is subject to certain contractual terms with the host government. Additionally, if you share your equity with other partners as in a consortium or joint venture, you would also be subject to the terms of the consortium or joint venture agreement or the operating agreement between parties. Both these must contain provisions that allow you to take your share of production in kind.”
In July, Mahalingam assailed the Indian government’s recent decision to double the price of natural gas from April 2014:
“The government’s decision on gas pricing will end up stymying, rather than developing domestic gas markets. For, high gas prices will result in demand destruction. Worse, they could end up stymying the development of the economy itself, already hamstrung by energy insecurity. Kumar Mangalam Birla has stated that the steep hike in gas prices is going to hurt domestic manufacturing which might well move out to other countries where fuel is more affordable, taking away jobs and livelihoods in the process. The price hike flies squarely in the face of the Supreme Court’s unequivocal and unambiguous ruling that natural resources are a public asset held in trusteeship by the government to be used for the benefit of the people.”