Power ministry begs gas from oil ministry for upcoming projects

Faced with a huge ongoing shortfall in electricity production and with its target of 3,153.5 MW for the 11th Plan period (ending 2012) nowhere in sight, the power ministry has asked the petroleum ministry to urgently consider allocating 16.23 million metric standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd) of gas to eight power producers whose projects are scheduled to be commissioned this year.

The gas would be needed if these plants are to achieve even 75 per cent of their plant load factor, the power ministry says; taking the total allocation recommended by it to 31.82 mmscmd.

Based on an assessment of construction work at various project sites, the power ministry has recommended Reliance Power's Samalkot expansion (2400 MW ) Torrent Power's Sugen (382.5 MW) and Dahej (800 MW) plants, Panduranga Energy System's CCGT (100 MW), RVK (Rajamundary) Pvt Ltd (436 MW), Beta Infratech (225 MW), Kashipur Project of Sarvanti Energy (225 MW) and Gama Infratech (225 MW), say media reports which have not been attributed or time-lined.

An 'empowered' group of ministers, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, had earlier agreed to allocate gas to these plants, but the quantities have still not been decided.

In May, the power ministry had recommended allocating 15.59 mmscmd of natural gas to six other power plants that are to be commissioned this year. These are Hazira CCPP of Gujarat State Energy, Pipavav CCPP of GSPC Pipavav, Pragati Stage III of Pragati Power, Lanco Kondapalli Stage III and Vemagiri Expansion CCPP of GMR Energy.

The latest recommendations come at a time when the petroleum ministry has advised the power ministry to be strict while recommending names of the projects for the 11th Plan as the country faces a gas shortage following the decline in production from the Reliance Industries-run Krishna-Godavari D6 basin to 50 mmscmd.

Meanwhile, ONGC is expected to start production of 2 mmscmd of gas from its offshore fields shortly.