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Gas distributors' retail rights questioned

PNGRB chairman says gas distribution companies like Indraprastha Gas and Mahanagar Gas should present centralised authorisation, reports Deepak Joshi.

business Updated: Nov 29, 2007 22:26 IST
Deepak Joshi
Deepak Joshi
Hindustan Times

Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) Chairman L Mansingh said on Thursday that gas distribution companies like Indraprastha Gas and Mahanagar Gas should present centralised authorisation by which they retail CNG and piped gas in cities like Delhi and Mumbai, or seek a fresh mandate from the regulator.

The regulator said that if the companies plan to operate for over three years then their exclusivity in a particular city would be just for three years with retrospective effect from October 10, 2007, after which they would be open to competition.

Mansingh said the regulator would invite bids by mid-January 2008 for about 200 cities to set up city-gas distribution projects. "In the first phase, we will put up the projects in cities en-route to the existing ones and the proposed natural gas pipeline bids are expected by mid January," he said.

Earlier, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) director (exploration) DK Pande said the oil major has found more natural gas in a block in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan.

"We have tested one zone and the second zone is under testing ... We will know the indications on the potential flow of gas in two to three weeks," Pande said on the sidelines of a conference on India's changing gas scenario called "The New Imperative". This block was awarded to the company before India moved to a regime of auctioning its oil and gas exploration blocks, he said.

Meanwhile, ONGC has turned down an offer of equity stake in oil blocks in Iran and Angola made by Norsk Hydro of Norway, saying the blocks were not very prospective. Norsk Hydro had offered ONGC a stake in its Anaran block in Iran and another block in Angola in exchange for equity in the state-run firm's gas-rich eastern offshore Krishna- Godavari basin.

"Norsk brought to us two blocks for participation but we didn't find the blocks too exciting," a top ONGC official said.