Close on the heels of a high-level presentation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and in line with finance minister Arun Jaitley’ s budget proposals, the petroleum ministry is fast tracking plans to set up a national gas grid in the country.
After identifying 15,000 kilometres of new gas pipelines, which is likely to involve an investment of close to Rs. 75,000 crore, oil ministry officials are currently holding talks with their counterparts in the finance ministry for including the pipelines in the government’s scheme of providing viability gap funding (VGF).
“Pipelines are authorised by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) by following a bidding process… It is felt that for speedy implementation, there is need to include the authorised pipelines in the government’s scheme for providing viability gap funding,”a senior ministry official said.
“PNGRB has been asked to prepare a roadmap on gas grid development, including an option for up to 20% VGF, within 6 months (by January 2015),” he added.
Pipelines identified for developing the gas grid include the 1,100-km Kakinada-Haldia, 600-km Kakinada-Chennai, 670-km Chennai-Tuticorin, 2,050-km Jagdishpur-Haldia, 800-km Barauni-Guwahati, 2,050-km Surat-Paradip, 1,584-km Mallavaram-Bhilwara, 1,670-km Mehsana-Bathinda, 740-km Bhatinda-Srinagar, 1,348-km Kochi-Bengaluru-Managluru and 2,500 km of other spur lines.
The current gas pipeline infrastructure is available mainly in the northern and western parts of the country as 60% of the total pipeline network and about 80% of the country’s gas consumption is confined to those regions.
Pipelines were initially laid from the source of gas to nearby developed markets and to major consumers such as fertiliser and power plants.
As a result, states closer to the gas source, for example Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, had the benefits of higher utilisation of gas and local development of the gas market. In contrast, the eastern region has no gas pipeline network and hence no consumption of gas.
The ministry feels that if the approvals are expedited, the pipelines can be completed before June 2019.