Forest area expansion for Dahej LNG terminal

Vol 14, PW 25 (16 Jun 11) Midstream & Downstream

Petronet LNG’s massive 10m t/y Dahej LNG terminal in Gujarat could soon get bigger, with a little help from the Gujarat forest department.

PETROWATCH learns Petronet-LNG senior vice-president (projects) Rajender Singh drove 76-km south from Dahej to Surat on June 7 to meet Deva Babu Ande, chief conservator of forests in Surat. Singh’s sole purpose for this visit was to ensure Petronet-LNG is allocated land for a proposed expansion.

Petronet-LNG is hoping to add two more LNG storage tanks at Dahej, we learn, each with a capacity of approximately 160,000-cubic metres. But it is finding it difficult to acquire the necessary 25 hectares of land.

Rapid economic growth over the past few years has seen Dahej transform from a sleepy port town to one of the most heavily industrialised regions in western India. Take the upcoming 1768-hectare Dahej Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which will be India’s third largest demarcated zone with liberal laws to encourage free trade.

This SEZ hugs the 48-hectare Dahej LNG terminal on its northern and eastern sides, leaving no room for expansion in either direction. Petronet-LNG’s Dahej terminal only has room to grow south, into a government-protected forest area, which is why Singh is seeking state forest department cooperation.

“If the forest department approves Petronet-LNG’s request, it will ‘de-notify’ (remove protected status) the forest area,” explains a Gandhinagar source. “Luckily, Petronet-LNG won’t need permission from the union environment ministry in Delhi because the forested area in question isn’t home to wildlife and thus can’t be classified as a sanctuary, reserve or park.

” More, the Gujarat government is said to have taken an ‘in-principle’ decision to allocate the forested region to Petronet-LNG. Still, freeing up forest land is a time-consuming process that could take a year for clearances to come in.