Last Wednesday, the government of India approved measures to revive and improve the utilization of stranded gas-based power generation plants in the country. This is credit positive for India’s banks because they have significant credit exposure to such plants.
Among the biggest beneficiaries of these measures are IDBI Bank Ltd (Baa3/Baa3 review for downgrade, ba3 review for downgrade), State Bank of India (SBI, Baa3 stable, ba1) and ICICI Bank Limited (Baa3 stable/Baa2 review for downgrade, baa3).
Power generation plants that use regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) as their fuel base have been facing significant availability and pricing challenges because the actual domestic production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been significantly lower than the assumptions made when the plants were set up. At the same time, importing LNG at prevailing prices has proved difficult because it increased generation costs, which, in turn, raised prices beyond the reach of buyers.
Among our rated banks, IDBI Bank has an especially high exposure to gas-based power plants and would be the key beneficiary of these measures.
The government has now taken steps to make the import of LNG economically feasible for supply to these stranded plants by making the various stakeholders share the higher costs. The central and state governments will provide exemptions from certain applicable taxes and levies on the incremental LNG being imported, while gas transporters and re-gasification terminals will reduce their transportation tariffs, marketing margins and re-gasification charges on the incremental LNG. Power developers will forego their return on their equity. The Indian government has also proposed to provide support to power distribution companies that buy this power. The government estimates that there are 24,150 megawatts of gas-grid-connected power generation capacity in India. Of this, 14,305 megawatts of capacity has currently no supply of domestic gas and thus is stranded. The remaining 9,845 megawatts has also been working at a sub optimal level based on the limited quantity of domestic gas in the country.