By Bill Davis, CEO and Lead Country Manager – South East Asia at ExxonMobil India

The second COVID-19 wave has slowed some of India’s growth momentum. Yet, as vaccinations gather pace, India’s inherent strengths will help it bounce back.

Rebooting infrastructure spend, industrial activity and local manufacturing, along with other targeted measures, can push India closer to its vision of becoming an economic powerhouse. But how can the nation fuel this growth?

Well, it starts with all of us playing our part. And I’m excited to be leaning in with ExxonMobil to help India power through to the other side of this pandemic challenge.

Energising an emerging powerhouse

Despite the COVID-19 setback, India’s growth potential just can’t be understated. The combination of a rising middle class, increasing income levels and a focus on education will continue pushing India to the forefront of the world stage.

Bill Davis

Take India’s development scale. One of its most promising dividends is people power, with the country’s population forecast to grow from 1.2 billion in 2011 to about 1.5 billion by 2036. And by 2030, thanks to India’s rapidly growing cities, the country will need at least 25 million new houses. That’s but one example of the kind of growth India is set to witness.

What interests me most about all of this – and my work – is how to help power this growth so it’s expansive yet environmentally responsible. It’s also why India’s energy choices are critical to its future.

Coming up with the optimal energy pathway for India is a complex challenge. We can support the nation’s energy ambition by helping resolve some of the complexities in meeting its growth goals – and also by sharing what we’ve learned from being a global player.

Joining team India

To be part of the winning equation for India, we have to put on India’s team jersey and consider: What does India need? What can we do to help provide that?

If India needs new manufacturing opportunities, jobs for its growing young population, cleaner mobility and better air quality, we want to help make it happen.

But underlying India’s enormous growth potential is its need for large-scale energy solutions and enhanced energy access – for all people. For instance, the government’s “Make in India” push to turn the country into a diversified manufacturing hub needs more reliable and affordable lower-emission energy.

This is where natural gas can do some impressive heavy lifting. India’s energy vision sees enhanced gas access driving a lower-carbon growth story. That’s the vision ExxonMobil is working to turn into reality.

We’ve been India’s reliable LNG partner for two decades, and today we’re doing more than just trading energy. We are pioneering virtual gas pipelines with IndianOil and Chart Industries to bring gas to areas not physically connected to pipeline networks. The idea is to accelerate access to gas and opportunity, creating the winning formula for India.

We’re also looking to progress India’s vision for future transportation. The accelerating shift toward CNG as the primary fuel for public bus networks and India’s plans to set up LNG fueling stations along the Golden Quadrilateral are setting the stage for a lower-carbon makeover of the country’s transport fleet. That’s why we’re hard at work with GAIL to build attractive opportunities for advancing LNG for Indian long-haul trucking.

Our initiatives not only have transformative potential to accelerate India’s gas access, but can also bring additional advantages for a nation looking to build on its manufacturing prowess. These opportunities have strong potential to spur local manufacturing of essential LNG equipment and create skilled jobs. A successful expansion could even help India emerge to take a global lead in manufacturing LNG equipment.

A success story that’s not waiting to happen

India is breaking new ground, and we’re working with the country’s energy majors to pioneer innovative solutions for its energy challenges. But these challenges aren’t unique to India.

That’s where this gets really interesting: If we can crack some of these energy challenges for India, you can then have a line of sight to other emerging countries with similar challenges. India really is a leader in that sense, and everybody is watching.

Given India’s strong long-term fundamentals, we are all eagerly looking forward to a post-pandemic turnaround – and doing our part to help the country achieve its goals is, for me, the role of a lifetime. It’s one we at ExxonMobil are excited about as we continue to explore ways to make life better for all Indians, now and into the future.

This article originally appeared in full on Bill Davis’ LinkedIn. To read more energy insights from Bill Davis, click here.

(Image credit: Bill Davis)

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