• Gas pipeline network hit on uncertain KG supply

    AMID heated debate on the completion of natural gas network connecting Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karanataka, the South Indian pie in the entire gas infrastructure in the country is abysmal. Now, there are 27.58 lakh piped natural gas connections provided by various entities in India and the number of compressed natural gas stations stand at 884. In the entire South, the number of PNG connections is 5,564 (0.2%) and there are only 33 CNG stations (3.7%). Tamil Nadu is yet to get the city gas distribution system in place (see chart).

    “South India would have had more natural gas networks connecting households and CNG stations if only Reliance had delivered on the promised output from KG basin. As against original estimates of 80 mmscmd, KG basin output is less than 10 mmscmd and even this is set to go down further. How do you expect any investor to invest in pipelines and networks when gas supplies are uncertain,”said Sudha Mahalingam, an independent energy analyst and former member of Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB).

    “The country is locked into an expensive long-term contract for LNG imports from Australia in the Kochi terminal so much so, there are no takers for this gas and hence no cargoes landing there. It is unfortunate that South India is a big loser in the gas game,” Mahalingam said.

    One can hope that the ‘retail gas’ segment, which constitutes both PNG and CNG, would improve in the near future as PNGRB has invited bids recently for city gas distribution in Chennai and Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam and Davangere. Also with the laying of pipeline getting resolved in Tamil Nadu, the situation is likely to change. “Currently, the national gas grid extends till Bengaluru only. With the completion of the Kochi-Koottanad-Bengaluru-Manglore pipeline project, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala will be benefited more,” said Tony Mathew, Chief Manager, GAIL (India) and co-coordinator of Kochi-Koottanad-Banglore-Manglore pipeline project.

    “The natural gas network will only grow over a period of time and hence the gas offtake also builds over a period of time. The pipeline gas supply can lead to attracting new industrial and commercial units in South India,” Rajeev Sharma, CEO, Adani Gas details the merits of natural gas. Jacob Markstrom Authentic Jersey

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