Fertiliser companies hit by ONGC Bassein shutdown

Vol 7, PW 25 (10 Mar 04) Midstream & Downstream

With elections imminent, alarm bells are ringing in the fertiliser ministry over disruption in gas supplies from ONGC because of a two-week maintenance shutdown between 7th and 21st March of the Bassein gas processing complex offshore Mumbai.

The shutdown was originally planned for February, but at a meeting of the Gas Linkage Committee on 13th January, ONGC agreed to postpone it till March. Last month, it informed GAIL of the postponement and GAIL in turn informed its customers, many of which are fertiliser factories.

But the fertiliser ministry is unhappy. The timing of ONGCs proposed shutdown will have an adverse impact on the production and availability of urea and does not suit the production plans and turnaround schedules of urea plants, the fertiliser ministry tells the oil ministry.

This will clearly hamper the production of urea and upset our production targets in an election year. Worried, the fertiliser ministry believes a two-week disruption of gas supplies will mean that, urea plants will virtually have to be shutdown for about a month.

PETROWATCH understands the fertiliser ministry wanted the Bassein shutdown postponed to April. Unfortunately, it seems that ONGC has not paid heed to the requests of the department of fertilisers and is going ahead with its proposal for a shutdown in March.

Continues the fertiliser ministry: As no imports have been planned, the proposed shutdown will create a crisis situation with regard to availability of urea, which can be easily avoided if ONGC postpones its shutdown schedule up to April 2004.