More opposition to HPCLآ’s Mundra to Delhi pipeline

Vol 8, PW 14 (06 Oct 04) Midstream & Downstream

Hindustan Petroleum has unsettled many people with its plan to lay a cross-country products pipeline from Mundra in Gujarat to Delhi.

Indian Oil was the first to voice opposition because it wants to retain control of the north Indian market for its Panipat and Mathura refineries. Bharat Petroleum later joined the protest seeing HPCLs pipeline as a threat to its own plan to extend an existing pipeline to Delhi.

On 14th September, Indian Railways became the latest to oppose the pipeline. In a letter to the oil ministry, executive director VK Roy writes: In our perception this pipeline may not be necessary.

This investment will create superfluous infrastructure for transportation of petroleum products at a cost to the national exchequer. Roy writes that the railways have begun gauge conversion work on the Palanpur to Gandhidham railway track that will enable it to carry HPCLs products by train.

He also reveals plans to buy more tanker product wagons. But HPCL is in no mood to listen.

Railways do not know what they are talking about, reveals a senior source. We will go ahead with the pipeline.

HPCL claims that the railways are not competent to transport oil products because it doesnt have the facilities in Delhi to unload products transported by train. Railways are scared of losingbusiness if the pipeline comes up.

HPCL adds that the railways run their operations inefficiently and this pushes up costs. HPCL is indifferent to opposition.

Objections have no meaning once the oil ministry gives its approval, he adds. Work to lay the pipeline began after the oil ministry approved the HPCL project in May this year.

The ministry says pipelines are cheaper than other modes of transport. Pipeline transportation of products is 25% cheaper than rail transport, claims HPCL.