With dependence on imported natural gas (LNG) on the rise, interest in creating infrastructure at ports — such as terminals and re-gasification units — has seen a spurt.

This dependence on imported gas is due to continued drop in domestic gas output, and no new producing fields are expected to come on stream in the near term.

The country's re-gasification capacity will reach around 50 million tonne (mt) annually by 2016-17, double of the current capacity, reveal industry estimates.

The country's third LNG terminal was commissioned at Ratnagiri in March.

The re-gasification capacity in the country is 13.6 mt annually — 10 mt at Petronet LNG's Dahej terminal and 3.6 mt at Shell's Hazira terminal. Both Dahej and Hazira ports belong to the Gujarat Maritime Board, belonging to the State Government. The recently commissioned Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt. Ltd is expected to take the capacity to 5 mt by 2013-14 from the present 2 mt. The port, where the terminal is located, belongs to the Maharashtra Government. In fact, to meet the growing domestic demand the gas importers are augmenting capacities.

Domestic demand

While Petronet LNG is looking at taking the Dahej terminal capacity to 12.5 mt by 2013 and to 15 mt by 2015-16, Shell is also increasing the capacity to 5 mt by 2013-14.

Another 5 mt capacity is being added at Kochi by Petronet LNG which is expected to double. The port infrastructure belongs to the Cochin Port Trust, a Central Government entity.

Insofar as future terminals are concerned, GSPC-Adani plans to add a 5 mt terminal at Mundra, a port infrastructure of the State Government. With all operational ports located on the west coast, companies are now looking at the east coast for setting up LNG terminals.

The possible ports are Dhamra, Gangavaram and Ennore. IndianOil Corporation proposes to set up a 5 mt terminal at Ennore Port, the only corporatised port under the Central Government.

It has signed an MoU with the Ennore Port, though there is no clarity on the timeline.

Connectivity

A key cause of concern — and a transport opportunity — has been providing connectivity from coasts to the hinterland.

To make the most out of this demand, GAIL, the public gas transmission and marketing major, has been augmenting pipeline capacity.

LNG will flow using GAIL's pipelines from port to the end users such as power plants, fertiliser units and other industrial sectors.

GAIL at present has a capacity to transport 220 mmscmd of gas through a pipeline network of over 9,000 km.

The company's projected capacity after completion of the ongoing projects is about 310 mmscmd (by 2013-14). In two years, GAIL's network will be over 14,500 km.

richam@thehindu.co.in

mamuni@theindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 8, 2012)
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