Modi wants Positra as fourth LNG terminal in Gujarat

Vol 11, PW 23 (03 Apr 08) Midstream & Downstream

How many LNG terminals will Gujarat have At least four, if Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has his way.

Dahej and Hazira are the sites of two existing LNG terminals but Essar, GSPC and the Adani group want to set up a third at Mundra. Chief minister Modi, we hear, wants the fourth at Positra port in Jamnagar district.

PETROWATCH learns Modi made this clear to a team led by Hans Smits, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam, during a meeting on February 14 in the Gujarat capital Gandhinagar. Smits was accompanied by Maqbool bin Ali bin Sultan, chairman of Oman’s Sohar Industrial Port and OP Rai, group CEO of Mumbai-based SKIL Infrastructure, formerly Sea King Infrastructure.

They called on Modi seeking Gujarat government help in setting up a container terminal and tax-free Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on 1000 hectares of land at Positra. A source present during the meeting tells us Modi wanted the team to include a LNG terminal in the project.

If the team was surprised by this demand, nobody showed it. On the contrary, one of the team told Modi that a detailed Positra project report prepared by the Port of Rotterdam showed that a LNG terminal was indeed feasible.

SKIL wrote to Modi 10 days later saying the master plan for Positra would be designed with the “flexibility to include an LNG terminal along with bulk terminals." No details are available about the size of the proposed new LNG terminal. Positra is now just a sandy and rocky portion of the Gulf of Kutch coastline.

On the opposite, eastern bank, with the Arabian Sea intervening, is the Adani-operated Mundra port and SEZ. Positra’s sole advantage, we hear, is its natural draft of between 18 and 20 metres.

Because of this Positra was chosen as India’s first private port and SEZ way back in 1998. But the proposal stalled when environmental groups went to court protesting against likely damage to corals and other marine life.

Last November, however, the Gujarat High Court ordered the state government to “dispose offâ€‌ the environment-related issues obstructing the project, giving it another potential lease of life.