Charotar Gas takes gas to areas others fear to tread

Vol 12, PW 13 (13 Nov 08) Midstream & Downstream

Most private sector gas retail companies in Gujarat are understandably keen to sell gas in densely populated towns and cities, with a ready market and high returns.

Not so the Charotar Gas Sahkari Mandli, or Charotar Gas Cooperative Society, India’s only not-for-profit gas retailer, based in Anand, Gujarat. PETROWATCH learns Charotar Gas wants to consolidate its unique position in the huge and untapped rural sector of Gujarat by applying to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board for permission to more than double the number of small towns and villages that it supplies to from eight to 18.

No other major gas retailer in Gujarat, be it BG-owned Gujarat Gas, the Adanis or Reliance, has shown interest in the rural gas supply market. Only GSPC Gas, the retail arm of GSPC, has worked out a â€کmaster plan’ to supply gas to 184 towns and villages across Gujarat, but this awaits approval from the gas regulator.

GSPC Gas currently supplies gas to only 20 towns in Gujarat. With supplies of around 50,000 cm/d from GSPC, Charotar Gas already sells cooking gas to 8000 homes, 250 commercial establishments and 100 factories in Anand, Gana, Mogri, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Karmsad, Udhyognagar, Bakrol and Kanjri towns.

But now it wants permission to expand its network to Umreth, Sarsa, Chikhodhra, Waghasi, Bhadran, Borsad, Bochashan, Dharmej, Jitodia and Lambhel. AJ Parmar, Charotar Gas managing director, tells us his customer base in the eight towns and villages where it operates will reach 10,000 by March next year and if permission is granted by the regulator to expand, its reach could rise to 100,000 by 2013.

Through a 340-km-long pipeline network, Charotar Gas is the only gas retailer in India with brand recognition among students, supplying gas to 21 institutes in the Gujarat educational hub of Vallabh Vidyanagar. “More than 45,000 students in 200 hostels eat food prepared on gas supplied by Charotar,â€‌ says Parmar.