More cuts in gas supply for customers along the HBJ

Vol 7, PW 23 (11 Feb 04) Midstream & Downstream

Bad news for gas customers in and around Hazira and along the HBJ: more cuts are planned in the already reduced supplies of natural gas they receive.

Blame it on a sharp fall in supplies from ONGC. The Gas Linkage Committee, which oversees and allocates natural gas supplies across India, agreed these new supply cuts at a meeting at the oil ministry headed by oil secretary BK Chaturvedi on 13th January.

According to a source present, the trigger for the fresh cuts was ONGCs report that gas availability will come down from the present 39.32m cm/d to around 37.5m cm/d. It was felt that this will require further reduction in supplies to consumers.

Gas customers in and around Hazira and along the HBJ are divided into four categories based on a Supreme Court ruling. Category-1 consumers are the most privileged and face no supply cuts.

Category-2 consumers are less privileged and face some supply cuts while Category-3 consumers are even less privileged and face more cuts. Category-4 consumers get the worst deal: they are the customers with fallback allocation and get no supplies.

Unsurprisingly, Gas Linkage Committee members agreed that there would be no cut in supplies to Category-1 consumers. The additional cut on Category-2 consumers will be limited to around 5% and the additional cut on Category-3 consumers will be around 10%, says our source.

On no account should there be a difference of more than 5% in the additional cuts between Category-2 and Category-3 consumers, agreed the committee. Some consolation for consumers: ONGC was requested to try its best to maintain current supplies up to March 2004 after which regassified LNG will be available from Petronet-LNG.

ONGC was also asked to try to postpone their maintenance shutdown programme up to 29th February.