Lessons in lobbying from Gujaratآ’s gas customers

Vol 6, PW 12 (14 Aug 02) Midstream & Downstream

CONSUMERS IN GUJARAT can teach others in India valuable lessons in how to lobby for more gas.

Shastri Bhawan tells this report Gujarat gets the highest share of the natural gas allocated in the country - a massive 23% - but is forever crying for more. Delhi is routinely bombarded with letters from MPs and heavyweights across party lines.

Ram Naik personally replies to each letter, even if it means saying 'NO'. Take an April letter from Udesinh Baria, Congress party leader and deputy opposition leader in the Gujarat Assembly.

Late July, Naik wrote to Baria that all gas produced from Gujarat's onland fields is used by local industries. As for allocations from Hazira and from the HBJ, Gujarat is allocated 13.2m cm/d out of a total 48.5m cm/d.

According to Naik, Gujarat gets 16m cm/d of actual supplies against GAIL's total countrywide supply of 62m cm/d - that's 26% of total gas supplies. In another exchange, Naik tells Gujarat MP Jayaben Thakkar there is no choice but to "regulate" supplies as production in Gujarat and HBJ supplies are "depleting day by day." Naik reveals that Gujarat power consumers already enjoy high priority and receive 58% (4.3m cm/d) of the gas allocated (7.49m cm/d) to local power projects.

Another MP, Dr A.K Patel, asks for additional gas allocation of 7,000 cm/d for a ceramic tiles factory in his constituency.

"The present availability of gas in the field is just sufficient to meet allocation of existing customers," Naik wrote to Patel last month. "Any additional allocation of gas from the field is not feasible."