LNG pumps being planned along golden quadrilateral
India is planning a network of liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelling stations along its 6,000-kmlong golden quadrilateral highways, a move that could encourage thousands of truckers to switch to the cleaner fuel from polluting diesel.
State-run GAIL is putting together a plan and persuading all possible participants – city gas distributors, gas suppliers, financiers, fleet owners and truck manufacturers – to get them on board and help build an effective ecosystem for LNG-fuelled vehicles in the country, according to people familiar with the development.
A shift to LNG-powered trucks from diesel will cut pollution and turn Indian highways quieter while boosting gas import.
About 350 LNG fuelling stations, at a cost of ₹3,000–3,500 crore, will be needed to cover the full length of the golden quadrilateral, as per the initial plan. Regulations permit only those with city gas distribution licences to set up LNG stations, and therefore, various licence holders will build fuelling stations in specific stretches of the expressway that fall in their respective licence areas.
About a fifth of the golden quadrilateral’s length falls in areas for which GAIL and its joint venture units have licences. GAIL is planning to build about 90 LNG stations, according to people familiar with the matter. Indian Oil, which has obtained several licences in recent years, too, plans to build LNG stations in its areas. Email queries sent to GAIL and Indian Oil remained unanswered till as of press time.
GAIL is also in talks with ExxonMobil and Mitsui, which can potentially partner as LNG suppliers as well as financiers for the initial lot of LNG trucks planned to hit Indian roads, according to people familiar with the matter. The plan is to get at least 10,000 LNG trucks, most of which would be initially imported, they said.
“Our partnership with GAIL is geared towards combining our collective capabilities to accelerate gas access to many sectors in India. Use of natural gas in transportation and industrial applications holds significant potential for India in terms of lowering costs, reducing emissions and enhancing energy reliability,” ExxonMobil said in response to ET’s query.
An email query to Mitsui remained unanswered as of press time Sunday.
At present, Indian cities have about 3.5 million vehicles using CNG, but barely any that use LNG, which is natural gas super cooled to -162 degree centigrade. Because of its lower energy density and slow refuelling time, CNG is seen as suitable for city transport, but not for long-haul drives. LNG contains 2.5 times more energy per unit volume compared with CNG and can fill fast, becoming appropriate for long-distance travel.