GAIL to invest over `45,000 crore to create infra for gas-based economy
New Delhi: GAIL India Ltd, the country's largest gas utility, plans to invest over Rs 45,000 crore over the next five years to expand the National Gas Pipeline Grid and city gas distribution network to help push for greater use of environment-friendly fuel, its chairman Ashutosh Karnatak said.
The gas pipelines are planned to take the fuel to the east and northeast regions as well as to consumers in the south as part of the government push to raise the share of natural gas in India's energy basket to 15 per cent by 2030 from the current 6.2 per cent, he said.
GAIL's push for the creation of infrastructure is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of creating a gas-based economy that is less reliant on polluting fuels for meeting its energy needs.
"Before we transition to zero-emission technologies (for both automobiles and factories) say by 2040/2050, natural gas is best suited for tapering emissions from current levels," he said. "Natural gas is 'happy fuel' as it has a fraction of emissions compared to alternate liquid fuels such as diesel in automobiles and coal in power plants."
India currently consumes some 160 million standard cubic meters of gas per day and consumption has to rise to 400 mmscmd to reach 15 per cent share in the energy mix, he said, adding GAIL is playing its responsibility by creating the infrastructure for the same.
GAIL currently operates 12,160-km of pipeline network and markets two-thirds of all-natural gas sold in the country. It is currently executing more than 5,500 kilometers of pipeline projects and a similar length is at the planning stage.
Karnatak said the projects at hand include the ambitious Urja Ganga Project to take gas to Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, and Jharkhand as well as Kochi-Kootanad-Bangalore-Mangalore line and the Indradhanush North East Gas Grid. "These pipelines will connect supply and demand centers envisaged under the National Gas Grid."
Besides pipelines, GAIL is also expanding city gas distribution (CGD) networks for retailing of CNG to automobiles and piped natural gas to household kitchens. Investments are also planned for the expansion of petrochemical plants. GAIL is looking to put up 400 CNG stations and give out a record 10 lakh piped natural gas (PNG) connections to household kitchens in the next 3-5 years.
The company is building a 2,655-km gas pipeline from Jagdishpur in Uttar Pradesh to Haldia in West Bengal, Bokaro in Jharkhand and Dhamra in Odisha. "Pipeline up to Patna has already been commissioned and the rest of the project will be completed by end 2020," he said.
Jagdishpur-Haldia & Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas Pipeline (JHBDPL) project, also known as the 'Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga' project, was inaugurated by the Prime Minister in July 2015. GAIL has commenced city gas operations in all the six geographical areas (GAs), including in Patna and Bhubaneshwar, that was awarded to it along the Urja Ganga route, he said.
The pipeline will be extended to Guwahati by laying an additional 750-km line. At Guwahati, it would interconnect with the upcoming 1,500-km 'Indradhanush' pipeline network conceived to operate in the northeast region by the public sector oil and gas majors.
GAIL will also lay a 600 km Srikakulam-Angul natural gas pipeline.
"Renewable power is set to grow to 227 GW by 2030 and gas has a complementary role in effectively addressing intermittency and supplying peaking load," Karnatak said, adding gas-based power generation can take over during the night or on not so sunny days in areas getting solar power and also supplement hydro and wind projects during downtime.
He said 20-22 GW of coal-fired power plants are obsolete and 25 GW of stranded gas power assets could be utilised to help meet the carbon emission objectives of India, he noted.
Gas can also be used as fuel in steel plants, oil refineries, industries, and transportation, he said, estimating that power sector alone would need 100 mmscmd of gas and 50-55 mmscmd each would go for city gas distribution and fertiliser plants. Steel plants and refineries can consume 70 mmscmd between them.