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Plans in pipeline, vision in focus

According to a British study, India's total coal reserves add up to 247 billion tonne.

india Updated: Mar 16, 2006 13:57 IST

According to a British study, India's total coal reserves add up to 247 billion tonne. It can be turned to more than 500 trillion cubic feet of gas. This can meet India's energy needs for 450

GAIL (India) Ltd chairman Proshanto Banerjee needs no introduction. He met Ranju Sarkar and Suman Layak a day after the Indian Oil Corporation decided to sell half its stake in the company. An unperturbed Banerjee told them that Gail has no intention of selling the ONGC stake that it holds. He spoke on a number if issues including the future where gas will meet a much larger part of India's energy needs. Excerpts:

What are the latest on pipelines from Iran and Myanmar? Are you also looking at investing in Pakistan?

We had plans to invest in Pakistan and also offered them opportunities for investing in India, but it needs clearance at higher level. In Myanmar, we were exploring eight options of bringing the gas over to India by onshore and offshore pipelines. We have recently invited expressions of interest for bringing the gas over as CNG is a new concept. However, it involves cheaper technology and this project will be the first commercial application in the world. The deepwater and shallow water options are being ruled out as the seabed isn't very stable. There is possibility of bringing gas from Iran as well as Turkmenistan to India.

What are your views on the draft pipeline policy? Were you seeking a monopoly on laying of pipelines?

First I must make it clear that I was never advocating a monopoly. In India we already have almost half a dozen com- panies in the business. We had felt that in national interest there should be centralised planning for setting up the na tional pipeline infrastructure. There is huge scope for build ing inter-state as well as city gas distribution infrastruc ture. This can be opened for competition. Once the nation al infrastructure is ready, it could be open to competition too. We are however ready for any decision the government takes on this. Now after the oil-industry regulator is set up by the government there will be more clarity on the pol icy as the regulator will also be responsible for drafting such policies.

Your long-term vision of India emerging as an economy where more of our energy needs are met by gas.

Generating gas from coal will be one of the major initiatives that we will undertake which will continue to meet 50 per cent of our energy needs in future. We have tied up with companies like Arrow from Australia. We are also talking to Coal India for tying up on this. This gas can be used for power generation as well as feedstock for fertiliser plants. We will buy the technology abroad for gasification of coal to ensure that the project is viable. There will be three kinds of gas generated from coal. Coal bed methane, in situ lignite gasification where you gassify the coal in the seams and surface gasifica tion. According to a British study, India's total coal re serves add up to 247 billion tonne. It can be turned to more than 500 trillion cubic feet of gas. This can meet In dia's energy needs for 450 years.

First Published: Mar 16, 2006 13:57 IST