Bangladesh boost to Tripura gas business

Vol 14, PW 14 (13 Jan 11) Midstream & Downstream

Mythical king Tripur, says legend, once ruled Tripura so harshly that most of its inhabitants fled in fear to neighbouring kingdoms.

Today, it’s a different story with investors and businesses from Bangladesh, which surrounds landlocked Tripura on three sides, rushing in to the formerly-volatile northeast Indian state. This has led to a phenomenal boost in local gas demand says tiny Tripura-based gas retailer Tripura Natural Gas.

Tripura Gas claims its annual revenues in the 2009-10 fiscal rose to Rs17.65cr ($3.84m), a staggering 440% increase over the previous year. And it is confident of repeating this feat in fiscal 2010-11.

“We are seeing a phenomenal rise in gas demand from CNG customers and factories,” says a company source. “Investors are rushing to Tripura from as far away as Gujarat (in western India) and Bangladesh.

” What’s luring them in Last November, Bangladesh foreign minister Dr Dipu Moni inaugurated a special ‘trade zone’ at Belonia town in Tripura. Factories in this special trade zone will ‘process’ semi-finished products imported from Bangladesh through the Ashuganj river port on the Ganga river and then send them back for sale to Bangladesh.

Excited by this development, Tripura Gas now wants the oil ministry to allocate it another 700,000 cm/d of subsidised local gas in addition to the 1.3m cm/d it already receives. “We have already booked customers for additional gas,” says Tripura Gas.

“A lot of factories in Belonia are catering to the Bangladeshi market.” Among them are food processing, cement, paper, glass, rubber, iron ingot and pharmaceutical industries.

More, Tripura is the second largest producer of natural rubber in India after Kerala. “Many rubber processing factories have also been set up,” we hear.

“Raw rubber was earlier sent out of the state for processing.” Indian industrialists are attracted to Tripura, it seems, as government subsidies keep gas prices there 40% cheaper than the rest of the country.

Tripura’s government also offers new factories an attractive five-year tax holiday.