New Delhi– India plans to more than double its liquefied natural gas (LNG) annual import capacity to 50 million tonnes in the next few years, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Thursday.

“We currently have LNG import and regassification capacity of 21 million tonnes. We plan to raise this to 50 million tonnes in the next few years,” Pradhan told reporters here.

“We would like to raise the share of natural gas in the energy basket to 15 per cent in the next 3-5 years,” he said.

“The share of gas in the Indian energy basket is 6.5 to 7 per cent at present, while the world average is 24 per cent,” he added.

The minister said that as part of the strategy to move towards a gas-based economy, the first LNG-driven bus is likely to start plying in Kerala early next month.

“Petronet LNG and Indian Oil are in discussions with the Kerala government on the issue,” he said.

The LNG experiment will be extended to long-haul commercial vehicles and trains in future, Pradhan added.

State-run Petronet LNG operates an LNG import terminal with 10 million tonnes a year capacity at Dahej in Gujarat and has another 5 million tonne facility at Kochi in Kerala.

Pradhan said that in eastern India, the government is laying a 2,500-km long pipeline which will provide gas to industry and help in gas distribution in seven cities in the region.

Earlier, PetroFed, an apex society of entities in the hydrocarbon sector, signed a memorandum of understanding with the The Energy and Resources Institute for a study on “Climate Change Risks: Preparedness for Oil and Gas Sector”.(IANS)