It is a prerequisite for energy security, says Panabaka Lakshmi

Union Minister of State for Petroleum, Natural Gas and Textiles Panabaka Lakshmi, Union Secretary, and senior executives of HPCL and GAIL stressed the need to expand the pipeline network to transport petroleum products and gas in the country, during the inaugural session of the workshop on oil and gas pipelines organised by the Centre for High Technology (CHT) and GAIL here on Friday.

The Union Ministry, oil companies, and private agencies need to get involved in creating a vast cross-country pipeline to meet the demand in the near future, Ms. Lakshmi said.

“It is the prerequisite for energy security and future economic growth of our country and we must all strive towards it,” Ms. Lakshmi said after inaugurating the workshop.

Pipeline transport was safe, economical, and environment friendly, decongests the surface transport, she said. This view was shared by all speakers.

Hydrocarbon sector would play a major role in the country’s growth and the industry must meet the economic and environmental challenges, she added.

Union Petroleum Secretary Vivek Rae, in his keynote address, explained the several challenges to be surmounted in laying a large network of pipeline.

“We need at least an additional one lakh km length of pipeline network and Rs. 6 lakh crore investment over the next 15-20 years. To meet the expenditure, our saving and investment rate has to reach 40 per cent, which is a political challenge also, and we cannot expect FDI investment here. The country has little option and tough decisions have to be taken to improve infrastructure and, if not, there will be anarchy,” he said.

Challenges

“Other challenges are in planning, which should be for a long-term period; regulatory challenge; right of use and safety measures. The country needed rapid economic growth and pipeline network has an important role to play here,” Mr. Rae said.

Safety measures such as constant review, safety audit by third party, hydrocarbon detectors, etc were important in laying pipeline network, Chairman and Managing Director of HPCL S. Roy Choudhury said.

“Pipeline network is taking care of 43 per cent of oil and gas transportation in the country at present and it should be raised to 58 per cent or more,” he said, and informed that HPCL was laying four cross-country pipelines, running over more than 1,000 km. A regulatory framework, which ensures a level playing field, was necessary and the land acquisition issues, right of way, and related issues should be dealt with all seriousness, Mr. Choudhury said.

Director (business development) of GAIL S. Venkatraman said increased technology transfer was necessary in this field. For laying transnational pipeline network, political stability was a prerequisite. Laying this pipeline was not a big challenge, but technology was needed to operate it efficiently. He also felt the need to have LNG terminals.

Executive Director of GAIL B.P. Singh welcomed and Executive Director of CHT B.D. Ghosh explained about the workshop.

There is a network of 37,000 km of gas and petroleum products pipelines in India out of which 13,000 km are for gas transportation.

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