State-owned gas utility GAIL (India) on Tuesday said it will commission the first phase of the Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga (PMUG) project before January, taking natural gas to cities in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The 2,655-km long gas pipeline worth Rs 129.4 billion from Jagdishpur in UP to Haldia in West Bengal, with branch lines to Bokaro in Jharkhand and Dhamra in Odisha, will for the first time take clean environment-friendly gas to the east to fuel its industrial revolution.
The project will not just supply CNG to automobiles and cooking gas to household kitchens in cities along the route, but also to industries to meet their feedstock or fuel requirement.
"The first phase of PMUG project will be commissioned within two months," GAIL Chairman and Managing Director B C Tripathi said. "It will be before January."
Phase-1 of the project involves laying the pipeline to Dobhi, Patna and Barauni in Bihar, he said adding the pipeline will be extended from Barauni to Guwahati in Assam, orders for which have been placed.
As per the earlier plan, the project was targeted at meeting the energy requirements of 40 districts and 2,600 villages covering five eastern states -- UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal -- by 2020. The project was launched in October 2016 and is also known as Jagdishpur-Haldia/Bokaro-Dhamra Pipeline (JHBDPL).
The 750-km pipeline up to Guwahati will cost Rs 37-40 billion.
The project will usher in industrial development in the eastern part of India by supplying environmentally clean natural gas to fertiliser and power plants, refineries, steel plants, and other industries.
It will also provide clean energy to households and transportation in the cities en route the pipeline. The city gas network activities in Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, and Cuttack has already commenced, he said.
Tripathi said GAIL in the July-September quarter saw its net profit rise 50 per cent to Rs 19.63 billion on the back of higher natural gas volumes being sold.
"Last year we were selling 86 million standard cubic metres of gas per day. This year we are doing 95-96 mmscmd," he said.
Also, petrochemical production rose 4 per cent.
The profit rise was despite a one-time charge of Rs 2.08 billion towards doubling of gratuity ceiling to Rs 20,00,000 per employee.
Revenue from operations jumped 55.3 per cent to Rs 192.75 billion.
He said the better performance of natural gas transmission segment was supported by an upward revision of tariff by Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) of some of the pipeline network.
GAIL earned Rs 1.94 billion from upward tariff revision for Dahej-Uran-Dabhol-Panvel pipeline, Dukli Maharajganj, Agartala Regional Network and Gujarat Regional Network and a one-time take or pay settlement of Rs 1.33 billion with one of the natural gas customers.
"The petrochemical segment has shown marked improvement in terms of physical volume growth though the margin was under pressure due to increase in input cost primarily due to increase in crude price and adverse exchange rate," he said.
GAIL Gas, a subsidiary of GAIL, and its joint venture partners won licence to retail CNG in 14 cities in the recently concluded bid round.
On half-yearly basis, GAIL reported 38 per cent rise in net profit to Rs 32.22 billion.