Ennore to get networked to gas grid in 2017

Piped gas could finally be within the reach of Chennai's fuel-thirsty industries by the end of 2017, with a private firm winning a bid to build a pipeline connecting the city’s northern suburb of Ennore to Nellore in Andhra Pradesh.

KEI-ROS Petroleum and Energy Private Limited, based in Andhra Pradesh, has won the mandate to build, own and operate for 25 years the 250-km pipeline via Krishnapatnam Port, a company representative confirmed through email on the condition of anonymity.

This is the latest attempt to build a gas pipeline in the State after a few earlier ones ended in failure.

One high-profile project that bit the dust was initiated by India's biggest natural gas distributor GAIL India. Its plan - to run a pipeline from Kochi to Mangalore via Tamil Nadu - remained a non-starter with farmers in the State opposing the laying of pipes through agricultural land.

Only 50 km of the pipeline to be built by KEI-ROS Petroleum will be in Tamil Nadu.

Also, the company doesn't foresee the need for agricultural land, as the plan is to run the pipeline close to the National Highway.

The Rs. 650-crore project now needs clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The representative said the company expects groundwork to begin by June next year and the project to be commissioned by December 2017.

Piped gas could benefit manufacturers of gas, ceramics, fertilizers, petrochemicals, tyres and automobiles, apart from helping CNG stations, refineries and foundries.

These industries had earlier gone through the disappointments of seeing the GAIL project fail as well as seeing an alternative project - seeking to draw from Indian Oil Corporation’s LNG terminal at Ennore - getting excessively delayed.

A Madras Fertilizer spokesman said: "We are living on borrowed time, as we have been asked to switch over to natural gas to produce urea. As southern States do not have access to the gas grid, it is a big question when that would happen as well as how long the Centre would provide us support by way of subsidy."

The spokesman further said, "This project would not only help us but would also lead to the next stage of providing piped gas to those living in Chennai city."

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