Better late than never - IMC gas for Solapur

Vol 24, PW 19 (12 Aug 21) Midstream, Downstream, Renewables

Chennai-based Indian Molasses Company is nowhere near meeting its commitments to the PNGRB at Solapur city in Maharashtra - but at least it's trying.

More than four years after it won its PNGRB marketing licence, IMC is gearing up to begin retail gas sales. A well-placed source tells us IMC will begin gas supplies to Solapur, close to the border with Karnataka, by the end of August (2021).

But only if it secures approval from the Petroleum Explosives and Safety Organisation (PESO) for a storage and re-gas facility it has built on the outskirts of Solapur 20-km away. Solapur is IMC's only CGD licence, and it received authorisation for the 14,987-sq km area on March 6 (2017).

For a start, IMC plans nine CNG dispensers at IndianOil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum petrol stations, each expected to sell between 300 and 500-kg/day of CNG to auto-rickshaws, private taxis, cars, trucks and buses. With a population of approximately 1m, Solapur is much smaller than Mumbai, Delhi or Kolkata, so "gas sales will be correspondingly lower," adds our source.

Solapur is unconnected to any cross-country gas transmission pipeline leaving IMC no choice but to deliver LNG to its storage facility in cryogenic tankers, most likely from the Dahej LNG terminal, roughly 800-km away. IMC has six LNG storage tanks at its disposal totalling 112,000 litres capacity with 80% utilisation.

Besides CNG sales, IMC also plans to deliver piped gas to seven factories in the pharmaceuticals, steel, chemicals and engineering sectors through a 113-km steel pipeline in and around Solapur. Under its Minimum Work Programme, IMC committed to providing piped gas connections to 43,658 homes within five years.

But as of now, it has barely connected 4300 homes. Whether the pandemic-related extension IMC expects will be enough to make up for lost time remains to be seen.