Mansingh delays Mehsana to Bhatinda pipeline

Vol 13, PW 23 (06 May 10) People & Policy

Labanyendu Mansingh is in no mood to accept bids for the Mehsana to Bhatinda gas pipeline project until the regulatory board he heads has its powers fully re-instated.

Contractors were originally told to submit bids for this ambitious 973-km cross-country gas pipeline by December 16 last year. But the deadline was extended by two months and then postponed again to May 17.

PETROWATCH learns the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board now wants to delay the deadline again by a month to June. Mansingh made his position clear to bidders at a pre-bid meeting in Delhi on April 27.

“Mansingh’s argument for extending the deadline again was that there are genuine queries from bidders and that the government will soon return full powers to the Board,” reports a source. “He said because of this it is better to delay the bid submission date than risk it hanging in limbo as happened with the second retail gas license auction.

” Among those present were Larsen & Toubro; GAIL with Engineers India; Gujarat State Petronet with IndianOil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum; Ahmedabad-based Adani Enterprises; Russia’s Stroygaz; Welspun; Reliance Industries; Reliance Natural Resources and Punj Lloyd. Several bidders were surprised to see Mansingh attend this routine pre-bid meeting and were further shocked when he suggested another delay.

“GSPL staunchly opposed the delay,” says our source, “but eventually gave in.” L&T and GAIL are believed to be behind demands for another extension, though this could not be independently verified.

“Nobody else asked for an extension,” asserts a source. But we learn from another source that several bidders asked Mansingh to clarify the tender terms at the meeting.

“No parameters for the pipeline have been frozen by the regulator,” complains this source, “barring the start and end points and the listing of eight or 10 spur lines, mainly in Rajasthan.”