Earthquake fears overshadow Mundra LNG plans

Vol 13, PW 11 (05 Nov 09) Midstream & Downstream

Earthquake fears are once more casting their ugly shadow over GSPC’s plan to build a LNG receiving and re-gasification terminal at Mundra port in the state’s remote and tremor-prone Kutch district.

Last week on October 28, at 7.10pm, the Gandhinagar-based Institute of Seismological Research reported a minor earthquake with its epicentre at Bhachau, 94-km northeast of Mundra, measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale, and whose tremors could be felt in Ahmedabad around 300-km away. This was the latest in a series of minor earthquakes to hit Kutch, which scientists blame on two major fault lines â€کactivating’ over the past 20 days.

“Five earthquakes measuring between four and five on the Richter scale have been reported in Kutch this year,â€‌ we hear, “including two last month (October).â€‌ Tectonic movements in a 30-km long fault line near Banni Rann about 25-km south east of Khavda in Kutch triggered the tremors on October 28, while on October 9, another fault line came â€کalive’ at Allahbund near the Pakistan border.

Scientists tell PETROWATCH that between October 28 and November 3, the ISR recorded 72 mild earthquakes in Kutch and Saurashtra, measuring between 1 and 3.3 on the Richter scale. Mundra terminal co-promoter GSPC is acutely aware of the potential dangers, as it prepares to invite the EPC contract tender.

“We are facing a lot of civil work challenges on the ground,â€‌ confirms a source. “Now we are carrying out â€کpeak ground acceleration’ to measure how hard the earth shakes during an earthquake.

â€‌ By March next year Tractebel hopes to complete the Mundra terminal FEED, which it began in July. Parallel work is underway to ensure the EPC tender process for the Rs4500 ($1bn) terminal begins next month (December).

Kutch sits in Zone 5 – the highest level on the earthquake zoning map of India. In January 2001, more than 20,000 people were killed after a massive earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter, with its epicentre at Bhuj, some 100-km north of Mundra, shook Kutch.