Gujarat Petronet blocks GAIL's pipeline plan

Vol 6, PW 19 (20 Nov 02) Midstream & Downstream

FRUSTRATED GAIL IS encountering unexpected hurdles in Gujarat over its plan to construct a 610-km pipeline to evacuate LNG from Dahej to Bijaipur into the HBJ pipeline.

Last month company chairman Proshanto Banerjee was compelled to seek the personal intervention of Gujarat chief secretary G. Subba Rao to clear hurdles in the way of the Rs2, 936cr ($611m) project.

This pipeline is part of a GAIL plan to upgrade the Hazira-Bijaipur-Jagdishpur pipeline to transport Dahej LNG into the heart of India. A 254-km stretch of the Dahej-Bijaipur stretch passes through Gujarat and the rest through Madhya Pradesh.

Most of the pipeline fits into the existing RoU of the HBJ but a fresh RoU is needed for an 80-km stretch in Gujarat from Dahej to Vemar. Getting this RoU is turning out to be a major headache for GAIL.

Gujarat authorities insist GAIL bring No Objection Certificates from Gujarat State Petronet for permission to cross roads and canals in its path. GAIL already has permission for 71 of the 101 roads and six of the seven canal crossings.

"But officials who gave us these permissions before are asking for fresh NOCs to regularise these permissions." Privately, GAIL believes Gujarat is surreptitiously trying to enforce the Gujarat Gas Act (now under challenge by the oil ministry in the Supreme Court). "We do not need to take NOCs from GSPL," adds GAIL.

"The Gujarat Gas Act is subjudice and Gujarat's interim gas policy (issued in July 2002) does not apply to a gas transmission company like us." Meetings with GSPC have yielded nothing and GAIL appears helpless. Pitifully, it is now begging for "fair treatment" from Gujarat "in view of our long-standing involvement" in the state.