Gas from Iran most attractive option for NTPC

Vol 6, PW 12 (14 Aug 02) People & Policy

BELIEVE IT OR not National Thermal Power Corporation is getting excited about a proposal to use piped Iranian gas to fire the 650-MW expansion of four power plants at Anta, Auriya, Kawas and Gandhar in Gujarat.

"On price it is the most attractive option for us, there's no doubt," NTPC confides to PETROWATCH. "As for the geographical and geopolitical considerations, these are out of our control." NTPC's enthusiasm for Iranian gas stems from talks with Australia's BHP Billiton, one of several companies that responded to an NTPC tender for LNG.

Iran has nominated BHP to lead the construction of a pipeline to India. "We could deliver gas into Delhi in the region of $2.5 per mmbtu," BHP tells PETROWATCH.

"There are a number of assumptions in these estimates of which the most important is final volume and the build upperiod and there are a number of unknowns like Indian taxes and duties. Till such time as these are clarified our numbers will remain estimates.

But our clear objective is to deliver gas to northern India at affordable prices." NTPC is so enthused by BHP's numbers that it's already looking beyond Gujarat. "If Iranian gas comes to Delhi at this price we would seriously consider switchingthe Dadri expansion from coal to gas." NTPC is planning a 500-MW coal expansion of its 840-MW power plant at Dadri, 40-km west of Delhi in Uttar Pradesh.

Separately NTPC is telling interested companies it needs the gas between the summer of 2006 and March 2007. However, we understand it has informally told BHP it is willing to push back the date to 2008 if the pipeline needs extra time for construction.