Petronet LNG Limited which is raring to go on the new fuel business across Kerala and beyond, has launched an initiative to transport gas through specially designed trucks. The new means of transport for LNG would mean that pipeline availability will not be a constraint on gas distribution.

The technology was introduced three decades ago in Japan and has been perfected over the years, according to experts in the field. The surface transport mode has been successfully implemented in Gujarat, where the first LNG project had been commissioned by the company. About 20 trucks are operating in that State, taking gas to areas where the pipelines had not reached yet.

“Transport by road is an option available to consumers who are not connected to pipelines separately,” A.K. Balyan, Managing Director of Petronet LNG Limited, told The Hindu. He also hinted at commissioning of the Kochi LNG terminal in August. The gas consumer base is sought to be strengthened by then.

Road, rail and barge have become accepted modes for transport of LNG, according to Alex Varghese, technical team head of the pilot project to be implemented at HLL Lifecare Limited, Thiruvananthapuram, within six months. The project could set the ground for expanding the reach of LNG to remote areas where laying of pipelines would be a difficult task.

“Earlier, gas used to be carried through pipelines only, which limited the value of the commodity. Now natural gas can be carried to any place like any other commodity which has increased the commodity value. The heavy cost of laying the pipeline, at Rs.7 crore-8 crore, can also be avoided,” Mr.Varghese, a former Director of Indian Oil Corporation, said.

Even when there is a reference to national gas grid, only 10,000 km – 12,000 km. is the length of pipeline involved. It would require at least 3.5 million km of pipeline to reach across major cities in the country. Managing the flow of the gas is another task which is not affordable to everyone. However, bulk consumers requiring large quantities might opt for pipeline connection.

Natural gas has the potential to replace petrol, diesel and LPG and hence the movement of those vehicles carrying petroleum fuel would get reduced eventually, he said. Kerala will be the second State after Gujarat to implement the surface transport mode of LNG to places where pipelines have not been laid. LNG had contributed in a big way to the Gujarat economy. Kerala too could benefit in a similar way, he said.

Companies making use of LNG transported on trucks would require to build LNG tanks at the receiving station. The liquefied gas could be regasified by passing through a convertor pipe at the station. LNG turns into gas through a simple process of heating, he said.

The RLNG (regasified LNG) could similarly be made available for the city gas project which envisages supply of gas to households. The city gas project as had been conceived earlier would require pipelines to be laid to every nook and corner of the city, crisscrossing the telephone, water and other cables.

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