Narayan takes charge of Petronet-LNG

Vol 4, PW 3 (15 Mar 00) Midstream & Downstream

Prospects for Petronet-LNG have been sharply boosted with the appointment of Subbaram Narayan as its Chairman.

In an interview with this report, Narayan, the highest-ranking official in the oil ministry, confirmed that his appointment was approved at Petronet-LNG's last board meeting on (Friday) 3rd March and that his immediate priority is to ensure the success of the company. "We will not allow Petronet-LNG to fail," said Narayan, "Of all the LNG importers into India, this is the only one with a firm Supply Purchase Agreement (SPA)." He adds: "My aim is to ensure the project gets completed on time." Narayan said one of his first tasks as new Chairman would be to iron out the damaging differences between the five principal shareholders of Petronet-LNG: Indian Oil Corporation, National Thermal Power Corporation, Bharat Petroleum, ONGC and Gas Authority of India, who each have a 10% stake, but whose public bickering has severely affected the company's credibility with its LNG supplier RasGas of Qatar, and given ammunition to its opponents in Gujarat.

In July last year RasGas and Petronet-LNG signed an SPA in London for the supply of 5m t/y to Dahej in Gujarat and 2.5m t/y to Cochin in Kerala. However, serious doubts remain over its ability to stick to the timetable laid out in the SPA.

Narayan's appointment coincides with a visit to Delhi by a delegation from RasGas. Narayan confirmed that "all the alternatives" to Dahej as an LNG receiving terminal are being examined, but insisted that NO decision has been taken to abandon the site.

His comment on Cochin was revealing: "Cochin most definitely will be done." Until now Petronet-LNG has put Cochin "on the backburner ."