More delay as Dabhol test LNG cargo put back to May

Vol 12, PW 23 (23 Apr 09) Midstream & Downstream

There’s been a further delay to plans by Ratnagiri Gas and Power to bring in the first cargo of LNG to the Dabhol terminal, which is being completed and revived after bankrupt promoter Enron abandoned it 10 years ago.

It now appears that the first LNG cargo is likely to land sometime in the first week of May, and not in the later part of this month, as originally planned. The delay, we are told, is because state-owned Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) which has been assigned the task of piloting LNG tankers into Dabhol port wants to do a mock landing exercise first.

“SCI wants to bring in an empty tanker, pilot it through the assigned channel and berth it at the jetty to test all systems,â€‌ says a Ratnagiri source. This mock landing exercise is likely to happen on May 1 or 2.

After the drill, if successful, Ratnagiri Gas has only until May 10 to bring in a LNG tanker because after that the Arabian Sea gets very choppy ahead of the summer monsoon season that will last till mid-September. As it will take about six or seven days to unload the first LNG cargo into the onshore storage tank, Ratnagiri Gas will not be able to bring in a second LNG cargo before the monsoon, as it originally wanted.

For the first cargo Dabhol requires at least 50,000 cubic metres LNG, being arranged by GAIL, which along with NTPC is co-owner of Ratnagiri Gas. As it awaits the completion of the mock LNG landing exercise, Ratnagiri Gas is also dealing with a faulty gear box in the compressor meant to handle â€کboil off gas’ while LNG is unloaded.

“Problems like these are bound to come up as the (Dabhol) plant has been lying idle for 10 years,â€‌ we are told, “but we are sorting it out.â€‌ Another major problem is the condition of the third onshore LNG storage tank.

Moisture has entered under the base of the tank, just above the insulation layer making it unusable for the near future.

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