Millennium Post

Oil Ministry to wrest CNG retail licence-issuing task?

Oil Ministry is looking to wrest powers to give CNG retailing licence from sectoral regulator PNGRB as it has issued draft guidelines detailing eligibility for rights to sell fuel to automobiles. The Ministry on March 5 issued ‘Draft Guidelines for granting Marketing Rights for CNG as Transportation Fuel, including setting up CNG Stations’ wherein any entity that has invested Rs 500 crore in oil and gas infrastructure can get rights/license to retail the fuel to automobiles by setting up CNG stations.

While the Union government had authorised entities like Indraprastha Gas Ltd and Mahanagar Gas Ltd for retailing CNG to automobiles in Delhi and Mumbai respectively in early 2000, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has been doing so through bid rounds since its establishment in 2006.

In the draft guidelines, the ministry stated that like the companies which invested a minimum of Rs 2,000 crore in oil and gas infrastructure were granted marketing rights for petrol, diesel and ATF through the March 2002 notification, entities investing a minimum of Rs 500 crore will be eligible for marketing rights for CNG. Also, entities authorised by PNGRB or Central Government would also be eligible. “The eligible entities under these guidelines shall apply to the Government for issuance of ‘Grant of Marketing Rights for CNG as transportation fuel’,” the guideline says.

Since 2006, entities apply to PNGRB and not the government for rights to retail CNG alongside selling natural gas as fuel within city limits. While PNGRB has been issuing the licence to retail CNG as well as piped cooking gas (PNG), the ministry guidelines pertain only to rights to sell CNG.

“The entities which have already been granted marketing rights for petrol, diesel and ATF as transportation fuel, under Resolution dated March 8, 2002 will be deemed to have such grants of marketing rights for CNG as transportation fuel,” it said.

In 2002, ONGC besides Reliance Industries, Essar Oil, Royal Dutch Shell and Numaligarh Refineries had won authorisation to set up petrol pumps to sell petrol and diesel. Besides these firms, fuel retailers IOCL, BPCL and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) as well as gas utility GAIL India Ltd will be eligible for CNG marketing rights.

Firms who get CNG marketing rights will get natural gas allocation and can book capacities in existing pipelines to transport the fuel, the guidelines said. PNGRB recently opened fifth round of bidding for city gas distribution (CGD) licences even though it had issued license to entities for only first two rounds. Licences for the remainder are stuck over disputes.
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