Waving magic BPCL wand for Modi's LPG goal

Vol 19, PW 18 (19 May 16) Midstream & Downstream

Everyone knows it can take 18 months or more to win environmental clearance for infrastructure projects in India.

But not if you're Mumbai-based refiner Bharat Petroleum, forging ahead to meet Narendra Modi's vote-winning scheme announced on May 1 to provide over 50m free LPG cylinders to poor families at a cost of over $1.2bn to the exchequer. PETROWATCH learns BPCL won environment ministry approval within a record 81 days to set up a proposed Rs694.15cr ($104m) LPG import, storage, bottling and bulk distribution plant at Haldia in West Bengal.

Typically projects like this take more than a year and a half to win environmental clearance. BPCL submitted its application on January 28 and won approval by April 18.

"Things definitely move quickly when the highest office in the country intervenes," says a former BPCL officer. When contacted, an environment ministry officer refused to comment on BPCL's special treatment.

"LPG is a clean fuel and a basic necessity across India," he said. BPCL is also planning a chain of LPG bottling plants across the country.

On May 7, it signed a MoU with the Chhattisgarh government to set up a new 40,000 t/y LPG bottling plant for Rs74cr ($11m) at Khapri village near state capital Raipur, witnessed by oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan. Help from Chhattisgarh state authorities has also been swift and forthcoming with the State Industrial Development Corporation (CSIDC) allotting 25.50 acres of land for the plant.

Modi's 'Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana' scheme will see Rs2000cr ($301m) spent every year on supplying LPG cylinders to poor families until 2018-19.