State-run gas utility GAIL India Ltd has won a second extension for completing the Kochi- Bangalore-Mangalore natural gas pipeline as it faces unprecedented problems in getting land in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Oil regulator Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) last week gave GAIL four more years till February 2019 to complete the 1104-km Kochi-Koottanad-Bangalore-Mangalore natural gas pipeline.
The Rs 44.93 billion was originally to be completed in March 2013 but the deadline was first relaxed to June 2015. "Considering the recommendation of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the state of unprecedented socio-political hindrance in execution of the project. PNGRB has decided to revise the completion schedule from June 2015 to February 2019," PNGRB said in the December 8 notice.
GAIL is to lay the pipeline in two phases - a 44-km Phase-1 connecting Kochi port to FACT plant in the city and a 1,060-km Phase-II taking the line from there to Thrissur- Kotanand and Pallakad in Kerala and onward to Coimbatore and Salem in Tamil Nadu before reaching Bangalore. From Kootannd a branch line is to go to Kozhikode and onward to Mangalore. Phase-I of the pipeline has been commissioned, which takes the gas imported at Kochi LNG terminal to the fertilizer plant in the city.
However, the Phase-II has been languishing depsite the Supreme Court supporting it. Construction has not progressed due to protests by farmers over laying of the pipeline through farm land. This has led to Petronet LNG Ltd's 5 million tons a year liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facility at Kochi running at less than five per cent of the capacity as there is no pipeline to take the fuel to consumers.