NEW DELHI: The government proposes to appoint independent operators of gas pipelines in the country to operationalise the common carrier principle that will allow all consumers and producers access to fuel transport infrastructure.
Petroleum Secretary Tarun Kapoor told IANS that the ministry was taking approvals for segregating the existing gas pipeline infrastructure to identify the portion of infrastructure that will need to support common carriers.
"We are getting all the approvals. Certain things have to go to the cabinet within two to three months. We will do it," Kapoor told IANS in an interaction.
As per the plan, a transport system operator (TSO) would be put in place to manage the common carrier part of the gas pipeline infrastructure. The TSO will be entrusted with the task of booking pipeline capacity for transport of gas from producers to the consumers on payment of fee to be decided by the regulator.
The identification of a common part of gas pipeline may involve bifurcation of operations of gas utility GAIL India into gas transportation and marketing. The gas transportation arm may then be put under an independent TSO.
The current work in the Petroleum Ministry also involves evaluating various ownership models that may be put in place to streamline gas transport operations in the country. Suggestions have also come to involve investors in transportation operations of GAIL, making it independent of the government and PSU oversight.
GAIL is the country's biggest natural gas marketing and trading company and owns more than two-thirds of the country's over 16,000-km long pipeline network, giving it a stranglehold on the market. Users of natural gas have often complained about not getting access to GAIL's 11,500-km pipeline network that can support other operations as well.
As part of development of a gas-based economy, the government proposes to increase the share of natural gas in the country's energy basket to 15 per cent by 2030, from the current around 6 per cent. Development and easy access to gas infrastructure would play a key role achieving the target.