Hardeep Puri 'excited' by Tellurian meeting

Vol 25, PW 21 (22 Sep 22) People & Policy

Hardeep Puri's social media posts about his meeting with Octávio Simões, president and CEO of US-based Tellurian, during the Gastech-2022 conference in Milan, have set tongues wagging.

"Welcomed Octávio Simões to be part of India's growth story," tweeted oil minister Puri on September 6 (2022). "Welcomed his (Simões) assessment that India will be the driver of global economic and energy growth in the future."

Puri's excited comments have generated widespread industry speculation that Petronet-LNG is ready to revive its lapsed MoU with Tellurian for long-term LNG supplies to India. Puri added: "I highlighted the immense opportunities which our drive to a gas-based economy will bring and explained (to Simões) that investment across the entire LNG infrastructure value chain, including increasing our pipeline network to over 34,000-km, increasing our LNG import terminal facilities beyond 60m t/y, and giving an impetus to compressed bio-gas (CBG), would involve $60bn."

Still unclear is why Petronet-LNG's deal with Tellurian in 2021 collapsed. Some blame Petronet-LNG director finance VK Mishra.

On June 9 (2021), PTI reported that in November (2020), Mishra said LNG was available at "a throwaway price" and "there appears to be no need to invest in (LNG) liquefaction terminals." If true, Petronet-LNG made a short-sighted decision against today's rocketing LNG prices.

"Petronet-LNG committed a huge blunder by not signing a deal with Tellurian (in 2021)," says an LNG importer. "They (Petronet-LNG) thought that (low) 2021 (LNG) prices would continue forever."

Others agree. "Times change fast," says another LNG importer.

"Earlier, it was Tellurian running after Petronet-LNG, but now Petronet-LNG is running after Tellurian." In reply to Puri's LinkedIn posts, former Petronet-LNG vice-president Captain Hemant Kumar Varma writes: "I am sure our government must be working towards securing LNG at reasonable long-term prices as we did with RasGas (now Qatargas)."

Five months into his new job, Petronet-LNG managing director AK Singh told reporters on June 9 (2021) that the company's non-binding agreement to invest $2.5bn in Tellurian's LNG project in Louisiana in return for gas supplies for 40 years had lapsed. "The MoU was not extended," said Singh.

"As of today, there is no MoU (with Tellurian)."