By RAKESH SHARMA
NEW DELHI -- Petronet LNG Ltd. is looking to raise 20 billion rupees ($367 million) in debt by the end of this fiscal year, as it moves ahead with an expansion program aimed at cashing in on surging demand in energy-hungry India.
The money will be used to raise capacity at a Petronet liquefied natural gas import terminal in Dahej - which is already India's largest such facility - in Gujarat state, a senior company executive said Wednesday.
"We have a choice to either raise funds in the domestic market or overseas," Director Finance R.K. Garg told reporters on the sidelines of an annual meeting of shareholders. "We plan to tap into the market in the January-March quarter."
He didn't say what form of debt will be used to raise the cash, but he added that the company has five-six months to take a decision.
Petronet, India's largest liquefied natural gas company by sales, plans to raise the Dahej terminal's capacity by 50% to 15 million tons at an investment of 30 billion rupees.
This is part of a program to more than double overall capacity to 25 million tpy by 2015, from 10 million tons now.
Apart from Petronet, several other companies are rushing to build LNG terminals in India.
Local gas production is on the decline while demand for the clean fuel from electricity and fertilizer plants is growing.
India's gas demand is expected to rise 40% by March 2015 to 356.16 million standard cubic meters a day, while output will increase only 8.7% to 113 mmscm/d.
Separately, Petronet Managing Director Ashok Kumar Balyan said the company's Kochi terminal, which will be commissioned in the current financial year through March 2013, will be able to operate at its full 5-million-ton capacity only by 2014 because of a delay in building key pipelines to transport gas to consumers.
He added that GAIL India Ltd.,which is building the pipelines to transfer gas from Kochi to the cities of Bangalore and Mangalore, will finish the job only by the end of 2013, rather than March 2013 as earlier planned.
A GAIL spokesman declined to comment.
Indian state-run companies Oil & Natural Gas Corp., Indian Oil Corp., Bharat Petroleum Corp., and GAIL each hold a 12.5% stake in Petronet.
French power company GDF Suez owns 10% and the Asian Development Bank 5.2%.
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