DAY-2 BUDGET 2008-09 IMPACT/ OIL AND GAS The exclusion of petroleum and natural gas from the broad category of "mineral oil' has put players in the oil and gas sector in a tizzy. Producers of oil and gas and refiners of crude oil were claiming an income tax exemption under Section 80-IB (9). The Budget proposes an amendment to this section, which says "mineral oil does not include petroleum and natural gas'. ONGC, the country's largest oil and gas production company, is estimated to save close to Rs 4,000 crore annually through this window. Companies slated to begin oil and gas production were planning to seek tax exemptions under this provision. "There is just no clarity on the issue. It contradicts commitments made under Nelp agreements. We will be formally seeking a clarification from the finance ministry,' said a senior official with Reliance Industries.

Finally, there is some respite for CNG users in Ahmedabad and Vadodara. Barely a month after hiking prices by 14 per cent, Adani Energy has decided to partially roll-back prices from Friday midnight. The company has decided to reduce CNG prices by Re one per kg, which means that CNG will be sold at Rs 28 per kg now. State-owned gas distribution company Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) has also decided to slash prices by Re one. S Tamprapani, senior vice president, Adani Energy Ltd confirmed the rollback in gas prices. Earlier this month, Adani had jacked up CNG prices by Rs 3.5 per kg.

The aim of this paper is to describe and analyse current approaches to encourage energy efficiency in building codes for new buildings. Based on this analysis the paper enumerates policy recommendations for enhancing how energy efficiency is addressed in building codes and other policies for new buildings. This paper forms part of the IEA work for the G8 Gleneagles Plan of Action.

The Economic Survey has reiterated that the government should raise output by privatising the oil fields and hence reduce dependence on imported crude oil. India, which spent $48.389 billion to import its crude oil needs in 2006-07, has already spent $48.02 billion on crude imports in the first nine months of the current fiscal because of rise in international oil prices. The pre-budget survey that was tabled in Parliament, suggested selling old oil fields to private sector and for application of improved and enhanced oil recovery techniques. Besides stepping up domestic production, the remaining deficit would have to be bridged by entering into strategic geo-political alliances to access energy assets in the region, the Survey said, pointing to the need of making investments in energy chain in West Asia and Africa. Reducing incremental import dependence of the country's energy requirement requires tapping of coal reserves, accelerating exploration of oil and gas, fully exploiting the nuclear and hydro potential for power generation and expediting programmes for energy generation through renewables, the survey stated. While production from old fields declined, the award of 162 new areas for exploration under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) since 1999 have led to 46 oil and gas discoveries to add 600 million tons of oil equivalent hydrocarbon reserves. As on April 1, 2007, the investment made by Indian and foreign companies in NELP blocks was $ 3.887 billion, out of which only 30 per cent was by the national oil companies.

A wealth fund with dedicated funds from forex reserves would add muscle to India's race for energy supplies around the world.

WE ALL know the critical role played by oil and gas in the economic development of a country. Fuels such as PDS kerosene and domestic LPG are essential commodities, next only to food, and impact the life of common man in a major way. Therefore, managing the supplies and prices of sensitive petroleum products is a key policy issue for the government.

The government is planning to create a multi-billion-dollar sovereign wealth fund to invest in energy assets such as oil, gas and coal across the world. "The plans are at a very initial stage. A decision on this would be taken after the budget,' Planning Commission energy adviser Surya P Sethi said here. "The fund, if set up, will invest in overseas oil, gas and coal assets.' Sethi did not give any idea of the possible size of the fund, but said: "It has to be in billions of dollars.' According to the latest data available with the Reserve Bank of India, the country's foreign exchange reserves stood at about $290.8 billion for the weekended February 8, up 57% from a year earlier. A sovereign wealth fund comprises assets such as stocks, bonds and other financial instruments, which is owned and managed by the government. The funds are deployed overseas for higher returns. The fund will be on the lines of Temasek Holdings, a sovereign wealth fund owned by the Singapore government. Officials are of the view that low returns on investments in US treasury bills and other sovereign securities did not cover the costs of maintaining huge forex reserves, and justified establishing a fund that could deliver higher returns. Last year, state-run India Infrastructure Finance Co Ltd set up an offshore unit in London to use part of the country's reserves to help local Companies import equipment for infrastructure projects. The corpus of this fund is $5 billion. The central bank has previously expressed reluctance at using forex reserves to set up an investment fund as it said the build-up in reserves was largely to insulate the Economy from the impact of huge capital inflows, which could be reversed at short notice.

BG group of the UK is keen on picking 25-30% stake in state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp's (ONGC) Krishna Godavari and Mahanadi basin deepsea oil and gas exploration blocks off the east coast. BG has expressed interest to take 30% interest in KG basin Block KG-DWN-98/4, which ONGC had won in the first round of auction under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) and 25% in Mahanadi basin Block MN-DWN-2002/2 that the state-run firm had won in NELP-IV. "We have approached the government for approval of the farm-in,' a company official said.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has called on his cabinet to devise a plan for nationalizing oil imports. The move follows a series of clashes between the government and Exxon Mobil subsidiary

Catch crops planted in the summer months can complement energy grains and the combination with them be an alternative to energy maize. But they

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