India may have to import 1-2 million tonnes of methanol for blending with petrol, to be used as cooking fuel and as an alternative fuel for inland waterway boats.
According to NITI Aayog, India’s demand for methanol is estimated to reach around 10 million tonnes per annum and domestic production is estimated at 6 million tonnes per annum by 2025. “The imports will be needed to meet growing requirement for the next three years,” according to Member, NITI Aayog, VK Saraswat.
The push to develop methanol as an alternate fuel will require the Cabinet’s nod, which is expected in the next two months, Saraswat added.
“We will call for bids for at least 1-2 million tonnes of methanol to meet the domestic requirements,” Saraswat told reporters here on Monday.
Commenting on the probable cost to the exchequer due to imports of methanol, Saraswat said, “That will not be possible to quantify right now. Last month methanol was priced at ₹32 a litre, today it is ₹25 a litre. We cannot know the immediate cost of the imports.”
According to Prashant Guru Srinivas, Founder, Director of the Catalytic Think Tank Forum, the present price of methanol is around $330-340 per tonne in the international market.
The bids for the imports will be called for by Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilisers & Chemicals, Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilisers and Assam Petrochemicals in the financial year 2018-2019, Saraswat added.
At present methanol is produced in substantial quantities in West Asian countries namely Iran, Iraq and Qatar. Going by the present rate, this will at least add nearly $330 million to India’s import bill for the interim period.
He said there will be a proposal to blend up to 15 per cent methanol with every litre of petrol. “It will give a cost advantage of ₹3-4 litre over pure petrol,” Saraswat added.