Uncertainty on NTPC's next move in search for LNG

Vol 6, PW 11 (31 Jul 02) People & Policy

WITHOUT EXCEPTION ALL the companies in attendance agreed that NTPC "did not seem to be in a great hurry" and left the meeting unsure of the power utility's next move.

One foreign company hoped this would be a "fair and serious" exercise. "NTPC should now call for tenders," he said.

"We expect this to happen before the end ofthe year." Another company was not so sure. "It will take another year and half for them to select a supplier, going by their current pace of work.

Instead of shortening the procedure, they seem to be lengthening it." Criticism centres on NTPC's uncertainty about how to proceed. "Now that they know who are the likely suppliers they could have straightaway issued tenders calling for price bids.

Instead they plan to first issue a tender for pre qualifying suppliers. After that, they will prepare a shortlist of suppliers.

Only then will the final tender (seeking price bids) be issued." Who benefits from this needlessly lengthy process Petronet LNG! The more NTPC delays the process, Petronet LNG will have an advantage," we are told. Foreign companies view this scenario with gloom.

"If NTPC signs an agreement with Petronet LNG it will send a very negative signal about India's LNG sector. It will reinforce the view that in India's energy sector everything is done between PSUs to the exclusion of foreign companies.

This is what happenedwhen IOC bought IBP Petroleum (in February). We just hope they don't use us as bargaining chips to strike a better deal with Petronet LNG."