ONGC, Reliance units also hit; Heavy Water Plant shut down

Our Bureaus

Rain havoc

Heavy rains

predicted in catchment area over next 36 hours

Gas availability

from country's largest fields to be affected

GAIL trying

to maintain gas supplies for category one consumers

Mumbai/New Delhi, Aug 8

Monsoon floods have wreaked havoc in the industrial belt of Hazira in south Gujarat as the Tapi river overflowed, halting operations of a number of industrial heavyweights in the area.

The situation could get worse, as the weather office has predicted heavy rains in the catchment area over the next 36 hours.

Due to the heavy rains in Surat, the Heavy Water Plant at Hazira had to be shut down early morning on Tuesday.

Speaking to

Business Line

, Mr S.C. Hiremath, Chairman and CEO, said that the plant has not been affected. It had been safely shut down. All electrical systems in the plants had been de-energised.

The floods hit ONGC's Hazira gas processing complex on Monday midnight, calling for an emergency shutdown, a company statement said.

The water level at the Ukai dam on the Tapi river rose to 340 feet following which eight lakh cusecs of water were eventually released. (This is sufficient to inundate a football field to a depth of one foot in less than an hour).

Water started entering the Hazira gas processing complex through the storm water channel, resulting in flooding of the plant to the level of 4-5 feet and leading to closure by 1.53 a.m., ONGC said.

On Tuesday morning, the boundary wall of the plant gave way and the river water flooded the complex to a depth of around 10 feet. A Navy helicopter with inflatable rafts has since been mobilised from Mumbai for rescue operations, the company said.

The shutdown will affect availability of gas from two of the country's largest gas fields - Bassein (off Mumbai) and Panna-Mukta-Tapti (off the Gujarat coast).

Supplies to the tune of 40 million standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd) from the Hazira plant have been suspended, ONGC said.

GAIL (India) Ltd has been kept informed about the situation so that consumers along the Hazira-Bijaipur-Jagdishpur (HBJ) pipeline may be informed, it added.

GAIL officials said that the company is trying to maintain gas supplies for category one consumers such as Indraprastha Gas Ltd, industries in the Agra-Ferozabad belt and IOC's Mathura Refinery.

Agencies, quoting GAIL Chairman and Managing Director Mr P. Banerjee, said that regassified LNG from Petronet LNG Ltd's Dahej terminal is being fed as normal, as a result of which the Bijaipur-Jagdishpur section of the pipeline is operating normally.

While some 30 mmscmd of gas from ONGC was not available since Monday evening, Petronet continued to pump 18 mmscmd.

"Customers have been notified of the cut. Priority is being given to transport, power and fertiliser sectors," Mr Banerjee said.

Petroleum Ministry officials have said that CNG supply to Delhi will also not be affected, according to agency reports. Public transport in Delhi runs on CNG.

Reliance Industries has informed stock exchanges of the temporary shutdown of its Hazira facilities due to safety considerations following the flood situation.

"We have shut down some plants till such time the normalcy is restored." The Essar Group said that it had cut down steel production at its Hazira plant, with its captive power plant producing only 100 MW against the normal 515 MW.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 9, 2006)
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