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SINGAPORE: India is seeking additional volumes of natural gas and has asked utilities to expedite completion of power plant maintenance, as part of emergency steps to stop electricity outages, according to a government note seen by Reuters.

The move follows extension of an emergency law that forces power plants running on imported coal to maximise output, as record power demand in August due to unusually dry weather, and a sharp decline in hydro and wind energy output resulted in the country’s widest electricity shortage in 16 months.

“States may ensure that all gas based power plants with whom they have power purchase agreements must be brought into use, during high demand days and non-solar hours,” the power ministry note dated Sept. 5 said.

“All efforts to be made to bring back the units under forced outage as quickly as possible,” it said, adding states should try to expedite commissioning of new renewable and thermal power plants. The move could boost demand for natural gas, and push India to seek more LNG cargoes on the spot market. India’s LNG imports have fallen for three consecutive financial years ended March 2023, government data shows.

“Additional arrangement for gas, for running gas based stations, from GAIL with tenders for advanced procurement for generation has been planned, during upcoming high power demand months,” the ministry said. India’s power demand has been growing rapidly after the pandemic, with strong economic growth boosting demand from factories and the summer heat increasing household consumption.

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