New Modi government expected to revamp India’s energy policy

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Although oil and gas import deals with countries like Qatar and others in the GCC region will remain unaffected, Modi is keen on reducing reliance on imports. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) election manifesto stated that it would encourage oil and gas exploration and production in the country to reduce its dependence on energy imports.

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Modi’s BJP, which won an overwhelming electoral victory earlier this month, would also not be hampered by the compulsions of coalition politics. The Congress-led UPA had to deal with different voices from parties that made up the coalition government, making it difficult to reach any concrete decisions. Moreover, there were many instances of corruption in sectors like power and coal, factors that the BJP used to telling effect during the election campaign.

Ministries

The massive number of ministries is expected to be scaled down to a more manageable level. There is talk that there could be a single energy ministry, bringing power, petroleum and natural gas, atomic energy, coal, and the new and renewable energy ministries into its fold. Earlier, decision making sometimes came to a standstill as one ministry would decide on pricing, another on licences and yet another on contracts, for example. This led to confusion and often expensive delays to projects.

Public sector behemoths like Coal India, which controls the country’s coal trade, could be broken up into smaller units to increase efficiency. Modi is also likely to install professionals as heads of public sector companies instead of political appointees. This method has succeeeded well inhis home state of Gujarat where professionals took over ailing state enterprises and turned them into profitable ventures.

Clean energy

LNG suppliers to India could be in for good news as Modi is seen as a strong proponent of clean and renewable energy. Qatar plugs LNG as a clean fuel and the fuel of the future and may see the energy-industry Indian market opening up more export avenues. Solar and wind energy are high on Modi’s list of priorities. In fact, Gujarat has the most solar energy units in the country. To boost renewable energy generation, incentives are expected to be offered to companies in the field.

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