India Imports 82% of Its Oil Needs and Aims to Reach 67% By 2022

India Imports 82% of Its Oil Needs and Aims to Reach 67% By 2022

The oil and gas industry in India dates back to 1889 when the first oil deposits in the country were discovered near the town of Digboi in the state of Assam. The natural gas industry in India began in the 1960s with the discovery of gas fields in Assam and Maharashtra (Bombay high). As of 31 March 2018, India had estimated crude oil reserves of 594.49 million tonnes (MT) and natural gas reserves of 1339.57 billion cubic meters (BCM).

India imports 82% of its oil needs and aims to bring that down to 67% by 2022 replacing it with local exploration, renewable energy and indigenous ethanol fuel. India was the second top net crude oil (including crude oil products) importer with totals of 205.3 Mt in 2019.

Natural gas landscape in India

By March 2021, India’s domestic crude oil production output fell by 5.2% and natural gas production by 8.1% in the FY2021 as producers extracted 30,491.7 Thousand Metric Tonnes (TMT) of crude oil and 28670.6 Million Metric Standard Cubic Metres (MMSCM) of natural gas. In August 2021, crude oil production decreased by 2.3%, and there was a 20.23% increase in home-grown natural gas production.

India held 43 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven gas reserves as of 2017, ranking 22nd in the world, accounting for over 1 % of world’s total natural gas reserves of 6,903 (Tcf). The country thus has proven reserves equivalent to 22.1 times its annual consumption, meaning that India has about 22 years of gas left at current consumption levels, excluding unproven reserves.

In summary, the following are the highlights:

  • India consumed 1,957,546 million cubic feet (MMcf) of natural gas per year as of the year 2017-18.
  • India now ranks 14th in the world for natural gas consumption, accounting for about 1.5% of the world’s total consumption of 132,290,211 MMcf.
  • India consumed 1,462 cubic feet of natural gas per capita every year (based on the 2017-18 population of 1,338,676,785 people), or cubic feet per capita per day.

Summary Table


Variability                                                                 Million Cubic Ft (MMcf)


Gas Reserves                                                           50,398,000

Gas Production                                                       1,113,364

Gas Consumption                                                   1,753,143

Yearly Deficit                                                           -619,778

Yearly Imports                                                        659,331

Yearly Exports                                                         9,535

Net Imports                                                             649,796


(Data shown in the summary table above is 2016-17, the latest year with complete data in all categories)

Context of natural gas in country’s industrial development

The commercial sector  uses natural gas  in a variety of sectors and industrial activities ranging from heating buildings and water, to operating refrigeration and cooling equipment, to cooking, to drying clothes, and to providing  outdoor lighting. Some consumers in the commercial sector also use natural gas as a fuel in combined heat and power systems. Natural gas, from a usage point of view, can thus be categorized as the most important source of energy in sectors such as fertilizer, power, refinery, petrochemicals, residential, energy and transportation, accounting for more than 80% of the total consumption, contributing approximately 30% to the country’s gross national product, and employing around 20% of total workforce in the country. A summary table below demonstrates the distribution of natural gas consumption in 2021 by sectors.

Summary Table


Sectors                                              Distribution of natural gas consumption


Fertilizer Industry                                                    29%

Power                                                                        18%

Local Natural Gas Distribution Network            15%

Including Road Transport

Refinery                                                                     13%

Miscl.                                                                         8%

Petrochemical                                                          5%

Internal Consumption for Pipeline System        1%

LPG Shrinkage                                                          1%

Industrial and Manufacturing                               1%

Sponge Iron                                                              1%


Source: Statista, 2021 (


Correlation between use of natural gas and carbon emissions

Rise in temperature is a cause of major concern across the globe. However, the level of carbon dioxide emission and the increase in temperature can be controlled by replacing  petroleum oil and coal consumption with natural gas as a transition fuel in bid for India to be able to cut its emissions by 50% by 2030 before going net zero by 2070 as per country’s renewed climate pledge made at the COP 26 in Glasgow.

Natural gas in India is emerging as the preferred fuel of the future in view of it being an environmental friendly economically attractive fuel and also a desirable feedstock. Increased focus needs to be given to this potential sector. (India’s Hydrocarbon Vision 2025, Ministry of Petroleum, Government of India), also available at

Natural gas in India is poised to act as a substitute to coal in short to medium term and likely be leveraged as a transition fuel in the long term before fully aligning with clean energy elements through renewable sources and innovative energy mixing, going forward.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard India Country Manager Pooran Chandra Pandey


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