Kochi LNG start-up pushed back to February

Vol 16, PW 10 (29 Nov 12) Midstream & Downstream

Lack of R-LNG customers has hit the commissioning date of Petronet-LNG’s 2.5m t/y LNG terminal at Kochi.

“We could have commissioned the terminal already,” says a source. “But what’s the point with no customers” He adds Petronet-LNG is not pushing contractors to hurry to complete work and that a commissioning cargo is expected in January only, with first R-LNG ‘send out’ slated for February when it’s hoped customers in and around Kochi will be ready to take the R-LNG through pipelines already laid by GAIL.

“Our regasification equipment has to be tested and certified using LNG in the presence of vendors’ representatives,” says Petronet-LNG. “But what do we do with the R-LNG produced unless there are customers ready to take gas” Just 800 workers remain at the Kochi site, down from 3000 during peak construction in June and July this year.

AFCONS has slowed down dredging work on the 14.5-metre deep, 5-km wide shipping channel, which will have a 600-metre turning radius. “There’s no point keeping the channel dredged and ready if the first LNG tanker is due only in January or February,” he adds.

When commercial operations begin, possibly in February, Kochi is likely to import around 300,000 t/y of LNG only. “At the most we will handle up to 800,000 t/y in the first year,” we hear.

“Most Phase-I customers are in and around Kochi and don’t need much R-LNG.” Imports are likely to rise to full capacity of 2.5m t/y only after the first year when GAIL completes its 1155-km pipeline project to carry R-LNG from Kochi to Mangalore and Bangalore in neighbouring Karnataka.

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