After unprecedented delay, India on Thursday got its third LNG (liquefied natural gas) terminal at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra after Dahej and Hazira in Gujarat.
As state-owned GAIL India Ltd announced the commissioning of the 5 million tonnes (MT) a year Dabhol LNG terminal, located around 340 km south of Mumbai, India's capacity to handle imported LNG has reached close to 20 MT per annum.
"The terminal has just been commissioned," said GAIL chairman and MD BC Tripathi via video conference from Mumbai.
The company plans to expand the terminal to 7.5 MT in two years, and then ramp up to 10 MT by 2017.
The Dabhol LNG terminal, he said, would serve as a gateway for entry of natural gas to the southern and western parts of the country including Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
"Raising capacity by 2.5 MT will cost R1,000 crore, largely for building a breakwater. For going up to 10 MT, it will take another R2,000 crore," he said.
The terminal is operated by RGPPL, a joint ventureof GAIL (India) Limited and NTPC as major share-holders, with remaining equity being held by financial institutions and Maharashtra State Electricity Board. GAIL, the commercial operator of the terminal, had arranged commissioning cargo for the terminal in December.
Presently, Dahej and Hazira are the only operating LNG terminals catering to LNG demand in India.
Given the decline of domestic gas production, the current gas capacities are operating at maximum rates. The commissioning of the Dabhol terminal at this crucial juncture shall facilitate higher volumes of LNG imports for securing energy for India.