Try diverting gas from non-core sectors to stuck power units: Panel
The government should explore diverting domestic gas allocation from non-core sectors to stranded gas-based power plants, a parliamentary panel has suggested, while asking the government to spell out the action taken against those responsible for the “gross miscalculation” of gas availability in KG D6. Calling for cost moderation of regassified liquefied natural gas (RLNG), the panel has also asked the government to rethink its plan of free market pricing of natural gas, saying it will be counter-productive and not in the public interest. The oil ministry’s proposal for removal of power sector from priority allocation should also be reconsidered and instead the government should restart its e-bid RLNG scheme to support these stranded plants with necessary exemptions, waivers and desired modifications, said the standing committee on energy in its report on stressed/non-performing assets in gas-based power plants. The financial support or subsidies required for the scheme may be sourced from Power System Development Fund, National Clean Energy Fund or budgetary grants for which the power ministry should pursue with the finance ministry, it said. We welcome these recommendations, with emerging energy mix of increasing renewables, it is imperative that the gas-based projects are saved from being mothballed as we need gas-based generation for grid balancing. We hope GoM will consider committee’s recommendations and operationalise these at the earliest,” Association of Power Producers director general Ashok Khurana said. ET had on Thursday reported that the government is working on a Rs 18,000-crore subsidy scheme under which it proposes to offer imported gas at subsidised rates for supply to stranded and underutilised power projects. The same was recommended by a panel led by cabinet secretary P K Sinha. The parliamentary panel has proposed that the government should hand-hold these stranded gas-based power plants and provide them requisite support to revive them. The committee said it is dismayed to note that State Bank of India, the largest lender in the county, does not have any solution regarding these stranded plants and wants to write off the investment made in these gas-based plants. The ministry of petroleum & natural gas should come out with the reasons, in lucid terms, for zero production of gas from KG D6 against the estimated production of 80 MMSCMD that was envisaged earlier and the steps taken by the government against those who are responsible for this gross miscalculation, which has put the reliability of the ministry at stake,” the panel said. Of the total 24,867 MW gas-based power generation capacity, 14,305 MW is stranded due to shortage of domestic gas supply. The peak flow of gas from KG D6 was expected to be about 80 MMSCMD by the end of 2009 and rise further in subsequent years. But the production started declining from 55.35 MMSCMD in 2010-11 to 5.5 MMSCMD in 2017-18, and today, the production is as good as nil, the panel said.