Delay in dredging at Kochi worries Petronet LNG

PETRONET LNG, that is setting up a LNG terminal at Puthu Vypeen Island, Kochi at an estimated cost of Rs 2,000 crore, is concerned over the delay in dredging activities at the site.

Talking to Business Line, Mr P. Dasgupta, Managing Director and CEO, Petronet LNG Ltd, said Cochin Port Trust was lagging way behind schedule in reaching the targeted 14.5 metre draft.

"Our LNG investment would be about $30 billion while EPC contracts are worth $400 million. We would be paying about $60,000 per day as charter fees to the tanker companies. Such is the level of our investments and if dredging schedule does not matches our plans then our project is a sitting duck," Mr Dasgupta said.

Unless CPT kept its schedule, Petronet would not be in a position to go online by December 2009 and this would result in heavy financial losses, he said.

Refuting Mr Dasgupta's charge, Mr N. Ramachandran, Chairman, CPT, said there was no cause for concern as far as dredging schedule was concerned. The dredging is being undertaken in two phases. Phase one that involves dredging up to a depth of 12.5 metres and widening the channel up to 220 metres has already been completed at a cost of Rs 33 crore, Mr Ramachandran said.

"As the terminal would be operational only by 2009 we are starting the second phase of dredging by 2007 for which Rs 379 crore would be required. Budgetary allocation for this would be made from the Union Shipping Ministry and port trust funds. We will achieve the depth of 14.5 metres and width 270 metres for channel as per schedule," Mr Ramachandran said.

Petronet LNG plans to set up an LNG receiving and re-gasification terminal of 2.5 million tonnes per annum and with provision to expand up to 5 MMTPA. The CPT has allocated 40 hectares of land on the Puthu Vypeen Island for the development of the terminal, which also includes construction of jetty and breakwater.

RasGas, Qatar, has signed with the company for the supply of LNG.

Source: Business Line, Mumbai, January 12, 2006
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