First vessel carrying natural gas berths at Petronet LNG terminal in Kochi

Kerala made a historic leap in the energy sector on Tuesday with the vessel carrying natural gas from Qatar docking at the Petronet LNG terminal at Puthuvype near here. Wilenergy, the LNG carrier laden with 123,000 cubic metre of liquefied natural gas, berthed at the jetty at 7 a.m., taking Kochi on the world LNG map.

Though the vessel had arrived at the outer channel a week ago, there was a delay in bringing the vessel to the jetty as the excessive silt deposited due to heavy rain in the LNG basin had to be removed. As part of the commissioning of the terminal, the vessel will be berthed for more than a week during which time the storage tanks will be cooled down to receive the liquefied gas kept at minus 160 degree Celsius.

The process may involve flaring of some gas till the systems are stabilised, Petronet LNG managing director, A.K.Balyan, said at a press conference here. Commercial supplies of regasified LNG to BPCL Kochi Refinery and FACT, the first two LNG consumers in the State, will begin within a week. HOCL, Nitta Gelatin and BSES are expected to join the list of consumers soon. The LNG terminal, built at Rs.4,200 crore, would be functioning initially at less than 10 per cent of its capacity.

Mr.Balyan said he hoped to extend piped natural gas for domestic consumption shortly.

He hinted at the prospects of Petroleum Natural Gas Regulatory Board, vested with the authority for inviting tenders for laying supply lines for PNG, resuming the process soon. The PNGRB had earlier set in motion the tendering process for various cities, including Kochi, but had withdrawn it for bringing in certain reforms. Petronet LNG, which supplies ‘Taral’ natural gas for domestic consumers, was ready to supply it in Kochi, he said.

Asked about the prospects of supplying natural gas to KSRTC, Mr.Balyan said a pilot project for supply of compressed natural gas (CNG) for automotives to be set up in Kerala was being finalised. Under the project, a few CNG dispensing stations will be set up and a few hundred buses could be converted for running in the CNG mode. The State government has taken keen interest in the project, he said. Petronet LNG has submitted a detailed project report for generation of power at the site adjacent to the LNG terminal as a joint venture with the State government.

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