Dabhol gets first supply of gas from GAIL

Flagship gas utility GAIL (India) has delivered the first-ever supply of natural gas to the Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra, paving the way for the beleaguered unit to switch from expensive naphtha to the cheaper fuel. ?We made the first delivery of gas to Dabhol plant around midnight on July 10,? GAIL chairman U D Choubey said.
Gas was transported through a 577-km pipeline from Dahej in Gujarat, where Petronet is importing 1.25 million tonnes of natural gas in ships in liquefied form from Qatar. This is the first time the Dabhol plant has received gas supplies since beginning operations in May 1999. But it will not be before next weekend that the plant starts generating electricity from gas as the system gradually shifts from liquid fuel to gas.
Choubey said GAIL?s Dahej-Uran-Dabhol pipeline was a landmark as it was completed in a record eight months despite several obstacles, notably opposition from farmers in Maharashtra and Gujarat, difficult terrain and bad weather. Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt Ltd, the new owner of the project originally promoted by bankrupt US energy major Enron, will by month-end start generating about 1,400 MW of electricity from gas. It will scale up to peak capacity of 2,184 MW by the year-end when a third unit is commissioned.
Dabhol plant?s Phase-I (740 MW) began operating on naphtha in May 1999, but was shut down in May 2001 after its sole customer, Maharashtra State Electricity Board, refused to buy expensive power. After Enron?s bankruptcy, the project was taken over by RGPPL ? a joint venture among stateowned power major NTPC Ltd, GAIL and Indian banks. RGPPL had restarted generation from naphtha in May last year.
Choubey said with the commissioning of the Dahej-Uran-Dabhol pipeline, regassified-LNG from Dahej and Hazira can also flow to Maharashtra. The 30-inch diameter two-way flow pipeline also links the gas markets in Gujarat and Maharashtra. While Gujarat already had access to multiple gas sources ? LNG from Dahej and Shell?s Hazira terminal and offshore fields ? Mumbai received gas only from Mumbai High fields. RGPPL was operating two units of Dabhol on naphtha imported by state-run IndianOil Corporation.

Source: The Times of India, New Delhi, 14 July 2007
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