Torrent not interested in gas retailing business

Vol 13, PW 9 (08 Oct 09) People & Policy

Torrent Power has abandoned plans to carve out a position in the country’s emerging city gas distribution (CGD) business, according to company chairman Sudhir Mehta.

“There are no big plans for CGD,â€‌ said Mehta, at a ceremony in Surat dedicating the newly built Sugen power plant to the nation on September 30. “For now we are concentrating fully on our core businesses of power generation and distribution.

â€‌ Mehta’s declaration will surprise many. Late last year on October 24, Torrent made what seemed like a last-minute decision to submit an application to the petroleum and natural gas regulator to sell CNG and piped gas in Dahej, but has yet to win the license.

Years earlier, Torrent had ambitious plans to become a significant CGD player. “Torrent wanted to enter the Ahmedabad CGD market,â€‌ says an industry source, “but later dropped the idea.

â€‌ In May 2003, Torrent made it clear it was no longer interested in the CGD business in Ahmedabad, due to “non-exclusivityâ€‌ and “unclear regulatory issuesâ€‌, leaving the field wide open for competitor Adani. But today, some competitors believe Torrent wants to leverage its experience in securing supplies for Sugen by making a thrust in the CGD sector.

But according to Mehta, Torrent’s primary focus going forward is its gas and coal based power generation business. “In the next five to seven years,â€‌ adds Mehta, “Torrent will be the biggest gas-based power generator in the private sector.

â€‌ Sugen currently generates 1147.50-MW using 900,000 cm/d gas from PMT supplied by GAIL at $4.75/mmbtu and another 4.5m cm/d from D6. But Mehta has ambitions to raise Sugen capacity to a staggering 4590-MW, making it the biggest gas-fired plant in India.

Located at Akhakhol village near Kamrej, 28-km northeast of Surat, Sugen’s three 382.5-MW power units were commissioned in June, July and August this year.