Prabhat Singh gives Kochi priority over Dahej

Vol 19, PW 4 (22 Oct 15) Midstream & Downstream

Kochi, not Dahej, is Prabhat Singh’s priority over the next five years - this was the unmistakable signal sent out by the Petronet-LNG managing director and CEO who visited the stricken terminal on September 28, just two weeks after taking charge on September 14.

By choosing Kochi first and not Dahej, Singh signaled his willingness to tackle the Rs400cr/year ($62m) losses at the Kerala terminal which has a capacity utilisation of just 2.1% since its commissioning in August 2013. Singh toured the terminal with Petronet-LNG vice-president and Kochi chief TN Neelakantan, then spent the day hearing presentations.

“Kochi continues to bleed Petronet-LNG," says a company source. "Singh wants to stop this.

" Kochi's poor performance is reflected in the Petronet-LNG share price which has fallen from Rs221.90 ($3.42) on January 8 to Rs185.25 ($2.86) on October 16. Luckily GAIL last month (September) resumed work on a critical 508-km pipeline to evacuate R-LNG from Kochi to Mangalore.

But the bad news is that the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) has exacerbated the terminal’s financial pressure with a Rs62.58cr ($10m) bill including Rs42.58cr ($6.6m) in lease rental arrears for four years and another Rs20cr ($3m) for using dredged sands for construction work. This bill has been issued because CPT has retrospectively hiked the annual rental from Rs1cr ($154,00) for the entire 33.4 hectares to a hefty Rs32.56lakh/hectare ($50,000).