Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has refused to share documents relating to sour gas pipelines passing beneath the Surat airport’s surface under section 8 (1)(d) of Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Replying to an application filed under RTI by an activist for inspection of the documents relating to sour gas pipelines’ shifting, culverting or encasing to enable Airports Authority of India (AAI) to extend the runway at Surat airport, the ONGC authorities stated that they cannot be revealed.
Last year, a meeting was held by district administration with officials of pipeline division of ONGC Hazira to discuss the critical issue of the sour gas pipelines beneath Surat airport surface following state government and AAI’s decision to take ONGC on-board to work out a solution for rerouting them.
ONGC had invited expression of interest (EoI) for the safe operation of the buried pipelines six months ago, but things are moving at a snail’s pace.
There are two 36 inches and 42 inches diameter South Bassein Hazira Trunk (SBHT) pipelines passing beneath the airport surface. These pipelines were laid in the year 1985 and 1996, respectively to transport sour dry natural gas from Bassein Platform A (BPA) and Bassein Platform B (BPB) offshore process platforms to onshore gas processing plant located at Hazira in Surat.
As on date, the volume of gas being transported is around 36 million metric standard cubic meter per day (MMSCMD) and 3000 cubic meters per day (m3/day) of condensate at an operating pressure of 60-80 kilograms per square centimeter (kg/cm2).
ONGC raised concerns over the safe operation of both the pipelines due to proximity of the runway of Surat airport located at Magdalla, which has undergone extension from 1,400 metres to 2,250 metres towards route of 42 inches diameter pipeline in southeast direction in 2007 and from 2,250 metres to 2,905 metres towards route of 36 inches diameter pipeline in northwest direction in the year 2015-16.
At present, the 36 inches diameter pipeline is 250 meters away from the runway and 42 inches pipeline 350 meters away. Further, the proposed extension from 2,905 meters to 3,705 meters towards the route of 36 inches diameter pipeline will cross it and create safety issues.
The existing runway of 2,905 meters has permissible usage length of 2,290 meters-615 metres of the runway portion from Vesu side of the airport has been displaced due to building height obstructing flight path. The existing runway is capable of handling only Airbus (AB-321) type aircraft only.
A senior officer in the district collector’s office said, “The buried gas pipelines of ONGC could pose a danger to airport operations. The extension of the runway has been halted due to the underground pipelines. The ONGC has been asked to carry out the survey of the pipelines and suggest the solution for rerouting or covering them.”