New Delhi: India is looking at signing long-term gas contracts with other countries to run its under-utilised power plants, Power Minister Piyush Goyal said on Tuesday.

“We are hoping to tie up long-term gas contracts so that we can start powering our gas-based power plants once again many of which are running at a very low level of capacity utilisation,” Goyal said addressing a ministerial session at Petrotech 2016 hydrocarbons conference here.

“We do hope to see in the days to come some engagement where we can bring down our cost of gas and start powering our gas-based power plants.

“This will not only provide us clean fuel but also lead to spinning reserve so that our electricity grid remains stable. This will help us providing 24X7 affordable power to all by 2022,” he said.

“We are 81 per cent import dependent in oil and 37 per cent in gas. We are not consuming gas to the extent we can. True demand of gas is not being exploited,” the minister added.

Three phases of auction for re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) have been completed so far and the fourth phase is presently under operation.

In September, nine stranded gas-fired power plants emerged as successful bidders for Rs 187.14 crore subsidy to get natural gas supplies of 9.93 million standard cubic metres per day (mscmd).

“The auction process successfully concluded on September 3, 2016 wherein the nine plants emerged as preferred bidders and were allocated mscmd e-bid RLNG, the Power Ministry had said.

The plants include that of the Ratnagiri power project at Dabhol in Maharashtra, and of the firms GMR, GVK and Lanco, for running a total 5,070 MW capacity.

“These plants would generate 8.81 billion units of electricity which will be supplied at or below Rs 4.70 per unit to the purchaser discoms (distribution companies) during the period from 1st October 2016 to 31st March 2017,” the statement said.

“This will involve government support of Rs 187.14 crore from the Power System Development Fund,” it added.

According to the ministry, 29 plants comprising 14,305 MW capacity had no supply of domestic gas and were eligible to participate in the latest auction process.

“Fourteen plants with a cumulative installed capacity of 7,575 MW participated in the auction process for Phase IV,” it said.