Assam wants gas promise for Guwahati

Vol 13, PW 10 (22 Oct 09) Midstream & Downstream

ONGC representatives evoked derisive laughter this month when they offered just 30,000 cm/d during a meeting to discuss a high-profile gas supply project from north Assam to Guwahati.

Convened by state industries commissioner – and former oil ministry director - Ravi Capoor, the meeting was held on October 12 in Guwahati itself, the state’s largest city with a population of around 800,000. In attendance were representatives from Indian Oil, Assam Gas, Oil India, Assam Power, Numaligarh Refineries and Canadian explorer Canoro Resources.

“Capoor went after ONGC,â€‌ says a source. “He asked why it could offer only such a small quantity.

â€‌ Most who attended the meeting to kick-start the â€کGasification of Guwahati’ initiative say ONGC had not done its homework. Oil India, by contrast, said it could bring up to 9.5m cm/d to the table, while Canoro offered up to1.5m cm/d.

But ONGC, it seems, couldn’t even answer queries about when gas production would begin from Changpang, its soon-to-be reactivated field in Nagaland. According to state government estimates, Guwahati will need a minimum 1m cm/d gas.

Around 600,000 cm/d of this will be for IOC’s refinery in Guwahati. Gas could potentially be transported to the city through the upcoming 16-inch diameter Duliajan to Numaligarh pipeline, which should be ready by December.

But this pipeline is primarily meant to carry gas to the Numaligarh refinery. “IOC wants to lay a spur line from this pipeline to its Guwahati refinery,â€‌ we learn, “but the problem is that the Duliajan to Numaligarh pipeline is not a â€کcommon carrier’ pipeline.

â€‌ After the meeting, it was agreed to set up a panel headed by BK Das, managing director of Numaligarh Refineries, and including representatives from Oil India, Canoro and ONGC, to prepare a report within six weeks. One issue is how to make the Duliajan to Numaligarh pipeline a â€کcommon carrier’ pipeline.

“Eventually it has to become a â€کcommon carrier’,â€‌ we hear. “It makes no sense to lay a parallel pipeline for this project.