Vol 2, PW 22 (11 Nov 98) Midstream & Downstream

It has been a fraught few weeks for the four consortia left in the race for the LNG tender in Madras, promoted by the Tamil Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO).

This month, TIDCO angered two of the bidders by cancelling a 5 November deadline for submission of commercial bids and replacing it with a new deadline of 27 November. TIDCOs effort to promote construction of a 2.5m t/y receiving terminal and regassification complex at Ennore is being closely watched to see if it lives up to its much-vaunted claims of "transparency".

The initial signs were not promising. Immediately after the cancellation, a number of rumours began to circulate.

Officially, TIDCO said its decision was influenced by new government import guidelines relating to the import of machinery - dismissed by analysts as a "smokescreen". One report suggests TIDCO cancelled because it wanted to include construction of a port at Ennore in the tender criteria.

This was dismissed as "rubbish" by a TIDCO official. Another - more credible - reason suggests that pressure was put on TIDCO by two consortia (Enron and Unocal/Woodside/Siemens) to delay the deadline by three weeks.

Initially reluctant, TIDCO agreed only because Indias central government insists on a minimum three bidders for the tender to be valid. Any less, and the bid would have to be re-tendered.

*Arun Metre, President, Unocal Bharat, is reported to have received a Letter of Intent (LOI) from the state government of Gujarat for a port cum LNG terminal project at Maroli. Other bidders for the project include Essar Power and the Torrent Group.

Unocals bid for Maroli was made in alliance with the Mumbai-based Natelco combine. The value of the Maroli project is estimated at $618m.

Maroli is one of four ports in Gujarat being geared for LNG imports. The others are Dahej (Petronet-LNG); Pipavav (British Gas); Hazira (Bids under consideration)