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Natural gas price in India may jump to $10 within three years of implementation of the C. Rangarajan formula, generating enough additional revenue to meet higher subsidy outgo on the fertiliser sector.
The government has decided to price all domestically produced natural gas by both public and private sector firms at an average price of LNG imports into India and benchmark global gas rates from April 1, 2014.
Barclays Equity Research estimates the price will be USD 8.3 per million British thermal unit in 2014-15 as against the current rate of USD 4.2. This will rise to USD 9.1 in the following year and then to USD 9.4 in 2016-17.
"We estimate the gas price could be more than USD 10 per mmBtu by FY16 as per the formula," Goldman Sachs said.
The new rates, which will change every quarter based on 12-month average of global rates and LNG import price with a lag of one quarter, will apply to all gas produced by both public sector firms like Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and private companies like Reliance Industries (RIL) Ltd.
"Prices will be revised quarterly and, in our view, will change by USD 0.1-0.5 per mmBtu for every USD 10 change in oil prices given the linkage to LNG pricing," Barclays said in a research note.
It estimated gas producers to garner USD 4 billion in revenue from higher gas prices from 2014-15 while government will rake in an additional USD 505 million from royalty, profit share, taxes and dividend.
After paying USD 360 million in additional fertiliser subsidy resulting for higher input gas cost, the government will be left with USD 101 million, it said.
ICICI Securities said the decision will "reignite investments in Indian exploration and production, especially development of offshore gas discoveries on the east coast and gradual alignment of industry demand (across sectors) to a higher gas price environment".
More than 30 trillion cubic feet of reserves in the Krishna Godavari basin can be developed at the new rates.
"Economics for marginal gas fields, primarily owned by ONGC (and some by RIL), could also improve," it