India to stop thermal coal imports; save Rs 40,000 crore: Minister Goyal
In view of rising production of the dry fuel, India plans to completely stop thermal coal imports in 2-3 years that would result in annual savings of Rs 40,000 crore, Union Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said.
Coking coal, however, would need to be imported, the Coal and Power Minister said at the maiden Maritime India Summit here, adding that his Ministry was ready to tie up with Indian shipping companies for this purpose.
Record coal production by the world’s largest coal miner CIL, helped India reduce its import bill of the dry fuel by more than Rs 28,000 crore in the last fiscal.
“I have no hesitation in saying that Indian companies used to import a lot of thermal coal. We want to completely stop the import of thermal coal in the next two to three years. We have already reduced imports by Rs 28,000 crore. We will save Rs 40,000 crore,” Goyal said. He said his Ministry was ready to enter into pacts with Indian shipping companies for import and transportation of coal.
“This is the time for Indians to buy ships, to invest in infrastructure. This is the time for Indian shipping companies to own ships. I am happy to do long term contracts with Indian shipping companies to transport our coal. Why don t we have a long-term contract,” he said. Goyal also proposed setting up a small private equity fund that would be handled by an international fund investor expert. “We can have some base capital of about $250 million and this fund can provide equity to various organisations undertaking logistics through coastal shipping and inland waterways,” he said. “Lets look at innovative solutions,” he added. Goyal said if PSUs as well as the ministries of power, coal and others contributed to this, it will give confidence to the private sector to participate in this initiative. “We could also raise about Rs 4,000 crore from international investors,” he said. Goyal said government is committed to ramping up Coal India Ltd’s production to 1 billion tonne by 2019.
In 2015-16, the ‘Maharatna’ achieved a record production of 536 mt, which was 42 mt more than the previous fiscal. Its production grew by 8.5% year-on-year. CIL, which accounts for over 80% of the domestic coal production, was however eying 550 mt in 2015-16. Goyal said the Petroleum Ministry, along with players like GAIL and Petronet should collaborate with the Power Ministry for entering into long term contracts to ensure supply of gas to nearly 24,000 mw projects.
“Currently we have 24,000 mw of gas-based projects and we have a stock that will be sufficient till March 2017. But after that I am looking at around 70-80 mmscfd of gas for Indian power plants alone. “So I have been talking around with countries like Australia, the US to see if we can get long term contract and to look at end to end contract tied in or hedged in at a fixed price which keeps the power cost affordable,” he said.
Goyal said that affordability of power is important and if gas comes at more than $6, then it will not be affordable.
“We believe if gas comes at between $5-6 it could be affordable for the country. I believe we can tie up with gasification facility and also tie up with the shipping sector at the lowest prices at long term contracts and also LNG regasification in India and use the pipelines of GAIL.
“At today’s prices if we can tie up, we can actually guarantee and fix up gas based plants need to support the 1,75,000 mw of capacity from renewable energy sources by 2022, then it will dove tail very well,” he added. “If we can collaborate we can have long term contract that will give a boost to LNG ships and they will have 10-20 years horizon of business going forward and reasonably good rate of return,” Goyal said. Goyal said his ministry is working towards achieving 20,000 mw of solar capacity target by 2017, nearly 5 years ahead of the timeline set by the previous government.
“The previous government had set a target of 20,000 mw of solar capacity by 2022. But we want to achieve this target by 2017. We have set an ambitious target of achieving 100,000 mw of solar capacity by 2022,” he said.
He also said that India currently has one lakh seafarers and this can be take up to 10 lakh. “There is a huge scope in maritime engineering and we need to encourage it. At international level there is a huge scope for seafarers. In India we have one lakh seafarers and we can easily take it to 10 lakh,” Goyal said.