The pipeline may have reached Bangalore but piped gas remains a pipe dream for now. The delay is mainly because the referee in the selection process to identify the company that is to supply the gas, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), is yet to set the ball rolling.
The 1,000-km Bangalore-Dabhol compressed natural gas (CNG) pipeline has been established at a cost of Rs. 4,500 crore.
City gas distribution involves supply of gas to customers who consume less than 50,000 cubic metres of CNG per day, and it includes residential homes, small-scale industries and automobiles.
“Once the PNGRB kick-starts the bidding process by calling for expression of interest, it will take about six months to complete the process if there are no hiccups. The survey of the city has to be conducted later. We do not even know when it will start,” a source familiar with the issue told The Hindu. The regulator was informed about the progress of laying the pipeline since work began in 2010 so that it could initiate the bidding process in time, the source said.
Prior to setting up of the PNGRB in 2007, cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Lucknow got city gas distribution with approvals from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
It will take the supplier about two years to reach about 75 per cent of the population, since population and geographical area will expand over time, the source said. “With so much of construction taking place in the city, it is also a tough task to lay the lines. Obstacles during execution will always be there. ”
It is in this light that Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Wednesday wrote to Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas M. Veerappa Moily, seeking permission for GAIL (India) Ltd. to roll out the CNG infrastructure in Bangalore. GAIL has entered into a joint venture agreement with the Karnataka State Industrial Infrastructure and Development Corporation, sources pointed out.
According to a GAIL official, the price of gas for retail users will be determined by two factors: transportation cost arising from the capital cost of the pipeline, and the actual gas price.
“Retail customers can expect to see their cost on cooking fuel reduced by about 50 per cent with CNG,” the official said, and added that the biggest benefits would be a clean environment when vehicles shift to CNG once it is available.
While the CNG price for homes may be revised once a year, it could be once in a quarter for automobiles, the official indicated.