KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) – Indian oil and gas infrastructure major GAIL India has announced a three-year capital investment of $940-million to add 2 500 km to its existing gas pipeline network across the country.
On Monday, government owned GAIL announced that contracts had been awarded for construction of a 520 km pipeline running across the eastern Indian provinces of Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
This will be the second phase of the 2 655 km pipeline network that was envisioned would traverse the northern Indian province of Uttar Pradesh to West Bengal in the east, running through the coastal province of Odisha.
However, the gas infrastructure major continues to face major challenges in southern India where locals are opposed to the proposed pipeline connecting Kochi, Kerala, to Mangaluru, Karnataka.
The planned 540 km pipeline is crucial for maximum capacity utilisation of the a five-million-ton liquefied terminal and re-gasification facility located at Kochi and operated by Petronet LNG.
GAIL negotiated with the agitators offering higher compensation in lieu of ‘right of way’ across farm land, following which some have promised to withdraw their protest. However, the window for GAIL to resume construction may prove to be short-lived, since last week another group of agitators decided to step up their “indefinite protest” against the pipeline starting construction on December 18.
Notwithstanding opposition in parts of the country, GAIL officials have said that the planned capital expenditure will enable the company to expand its total natural gas transportation facility from 11 000 km to 18 000 km by 2020.
The expanded gas transportation capacity will enable GAIL to offer higher volumes of the fuel to key sectors such as fertiliser, steel and household consumers, and maintain its existing share of 75% in natural gas transportation capacity.