Oil regulator has found state-owned gas utility GAIL India Ltd guilty of severe lapses that led to an explosion at one of its pipelines in Andhra Pradesh, killing at least 29 people in June last year.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) imposed a civil penalty of Rs 2 million on GAIL and an additional penalty of Rs 0.1 million per day for continuation of default. An explosion followed by a major fire was reported on a GAIL pipeline near Nagaram village in Tatipaka on June 27, 2014. The 18-inch pipeline supplied gas to Lanco power plant.
It was designed to transport dry gas but was used for transporting wet gas having condensate/water. This caused corrosion and subsequent leak from the pipeline lying four meters below the ground. An ignition led to explosion and the subsequent fire, killing at last 29 persons and injuring 10 others. "The transportation of wet gas has been the principal reason of failure of pipeline," PNGRB said in an order.
"GAIL has also defaulted in compliance of the various provisions with respect to design, maintenance, operation, inspection, integrity management, quality of gas etc of PNGRB (Technical Standard and Specifications including Safety Standards for Natural Gas Pipelines) Regulation 2012," the order said. PNGRB said GAIL "admitted various lapses" including not providing gas dehydration unit at the mouth of pipeline as well as transporting wet gas through a line designed for dry gas.
"The presence of internal corrosion in the pipeline on account of high level of moisture/condensate in the gas being supplied/delivered into the KG Basin pipeline system 2007 onward has been the principal reason of failure of the pipeline," it said. The regulator said the penalty imposed by it was "without prejudice to any other penalty/criminal liability/punishment to which company is liable".