Ex-Shell E&P chief joins GAIL break-up chorus

Vol 21, PW 10 (22 Feb 18) People & Policy

Shaleen Sharma, former head of Shell upstream in India, has thrown his weight behind calls to end GAIL's monopoly by breaking it up into separate pipeline and marketing companies.

Speaking without notes, Sharma held the audience in rapt attention during his 10-minute speech at an infrastructure conference hosted by the School of Petroleum Management at the Pandit Deen Dayal Petroleum University on February 15. Sharma openly welcomed proposals to separate gas transmission and distribution across India.

"Going forward you really need to do this," he said. "GSPC has done a great job by having separate (transmission and marketing) companies but at the national level (read: GAIL) a lot more needs to be done." Sharma also argued that India's LNG terminals without exception should be run as merchant terminals where companies can more easily book capacity for a fee.

"That is the future," he said. "All LNG terminals must open up to receive LNG from anywhere in the world." Sharma also made a strong case for sharing oil and gas infrastructure between companies, citing how ONGC uses Cairn's Hazira facilities to evacuate gas from its North Tapti field.

"Cairn operates the Lakshmi gasfield close to the Hazira offshore," he said. "Gas from ONGC's North Tapti field is evacuated through subsea pipelines through the Lakshmi facilities." ONGC is planning a similar infrastructure sharing arrangement with Reliance for its underutilised east coast facilities, said Sharma.