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Shortcomings in governance of natural gas sector

Author(s): Ashok Sreenivas, Girish Sant Publication Date: July, 2009

India's natural gas sector is poised for a dramatic growth in the near future with many large natural gas finds off the Indian coast. Natural gas is likely to play an increasingly prominent role in the Indian energy basket apart from being important as a feed-stock for fertilizer and petrochemical industries. Moreover, since it is a clean-burning fuel, it also has an important role to play in the battle against climate change. However, governance in the natural gas sector has so far failed to maximize public interest through effective exploitation and utilization of this natural resource. There are serious concerns about the emerging horizontal oligopoly and vertical integration, ineffectiveness of the regulatory body to protect public interest, absence of objective policy guidelines for pricing and utilization, and questions about transparency and contractual issues in natural gas exploration. This article, published in the 25th July ,2009 issue of the Economic and Political Weekly, highlights the lacunae in governance in the natural gas sector and suggests some ways forward by which the situation can be improved.

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