GUWAHATI, July 18 - Admitting that the situation arising out of shortage of natural gas in Assam is grave, Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary today said that unless the gas was brought from outside the survival of many industries in the State would be at stake.
With no major new discoveries being made in the region in recent times, the State is pinning hopes on the proposed gas pipeline from Barauni for which the Central government has floated EoI (expression of interest).
Patowary was also “critical” of the performance of ONGC in the State and said he has spoken to the Central government urging it to hand over some assets of the company here to other PSUs like OIL.
“We don’t have the connection with the national grid. If new fields are not discovered, the future of many industries like tea gardens, fertilizer, etc., is bleak. Due to the shortage of gas, Lepetkata-based Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited (BCPL) has not even gone up to achieving 50 per cent of its capacity,” Patowary said.
Expressing his unhappiness at the performance of ONGC, the minister said, “Last year many tea gardens in Karbi Anglong were facing a shortage of gas despite the presence of an ONGC field nearby. Since about a year now, I have been asking the ONGC to collect the gas and provide it to us... In fact, I have even spoken to the Union Petroleum Minister to hand over the ONGC fields to other PSUs.”
Oil India Limited (OIL) CMD Utpal Bora said the shortage of gas in the State is around 2 million cubic metre per day. Assam requires around 10 million cubic metre per day as against the supply of 8 million cubic metre.
Bora said the Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) is ready to undertake the gas pipeline project from Barauni if the Central government is willing to provide the ‘viability gap funding’.
“If GAIL does not undertake the project, OIL, Assam Gas Company Ltd and the Government of Assam could float a joint venture company and may undertake it. But the first preference should be GAIL due to its expertise,” Bora said.
The OIL has conducted a feasibility study of laying the new gas pipeline parallel to its existing oil pipeline that runs from Barauni to Naharkatiya.
The 750-km proposed gas pipeline connected to the national grid would incur a cost of Rs 4 crore per km, as per initial estimates.
Two pipelines have already been laid in the 18-metre-wide ‘right of way’ (ROW) owned by the OIL, the second being from Siliguri to Numaligarh. “We have to see if we can accommodate the third one within the ROW (area acquired by OIL having a width of 18 metres),” he said.