India is playing a key role in creating a new energy security architecture for its neighbors, ranging from cross-border electricity trade to supplying petroleum products.
The latest announcement by state-run Petronet LNG Ltd of setting up a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Sri Lanka forms an integral part of this strategy and also helps exert economic and strategic influence.
According to India’s Live Mint online, the announcement comes in the backdrop of increasing Chinese influence in the island nation that New Delhi has traditionally considered within its sphere of influence.
Fostering cross-border energy trade is an important part of this and has also been articulated in federal think tank Niti Aayog’s draft national energy policy.
“India’s northern neighbours have a huge hydro-power potential — Nepal 83 GW (gigawatts) and Bhutan 30 GW. Exploring cross border electricity trade among the South Asian nations by developing competitive market, will help India to optimize the utilization of its grid and also meet electricity need through clean sources. Balancing of the grid will be better due to varying peaking demand across in different time zones across the east-west expanse of the South Asian grid,” the policy states.
“Apart from building power projects in Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh, India already has power grid links with Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh, and plans to develop power transmission links with Myanmar and Sri Lanka,” said Live Mint.
India is also championing for a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Energy Initiative to create sub-regional hydrocarbon infrastructure such as gas networks. This is on the lines of the Saarc electricity grid which envisages meeting electricity demand in the region.
Saarc groups India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and the Maldives.
India, which currently consumes 185 million tonnes of petroleum products on an annual basis, also supplies petroleum products to its neighbors such as Nepal and is building a pipeline to supply petrol, diesel, and kerosene to the landlocked country. Earlier this week, India sent the first diesel consignment to Myanmar through the land route.