KOCHI: In a major fillip to the natural gas infrastructure in Kerala, the oil and natural gas regulator Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) has revised the deadline for laying Kochi-Koottanad-Bengaluru-Mangalore natural gas pipeline network to February 2019. In a letter to Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), which is tasked with the laying of the pipeline, dated December 8, PNGRB stated that the new schedule was announced considering the recommendation of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
The ministry’s appeal came in the light of the “unprecedented socio-political hindrance in execution of the pipeline project”. The initial deadline for completion of the project was June 2015. GAIL had resumed work on the Phase-II of Kochi-Koottanad-Bengaluru-Mangaluru Pipeline in state in October this year. The IL&FS Engineering Services, which bagged the contract for the pipeline laying work, divided the entire 503-km pipeline project into four parts.
“The work for the second phase, in 200 km, is progressing and tenders have already been floated for the remaining phases of the Kochi-Mangalore LNG pipeline project. We hope to award the work soon,” a GAIL official told ‘Express’.
The first stretch in 90 km will cover Ernakulam and Thrissur. A distance of 45 km in Ernakulam district was completed years ago. The other segments are Kozhikode-Malappuram, Kannur and Kasaragod-Mangalore. The land acquisition for 400 km has been completed and the remaining will be finished by December this year. The project faced strong protests in Malappuram and Kozhikode districts. “GAIL has to finish the pipeline laying by February 2019. Any failure on the part of the entity to comply with the targets prescribed in the time schedule shall have consequences,” says the PNGRB order. The report came at a time when Petronet LNG Limited, which incurs a loss of `400 crore every year due to non-laying of LNG pipeline, reported that Kochi terminal handled only four TBTUs of LNG along with the reload services and served only two consumers, Kochi refinery and FACT.
The `4,500-crore LNG Terminal of Petronet at Puthuvype, first in South India, has been lying idle for over three years for want of pipelines to evacuate gas. The completion of the pipeline is critical for the natural gas infrastructure for Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.