As the theme of sustainable mobility and lower emission gain traction, India’s leading energy giants have begun working on setting up of liquefied natural gas (LNG) pumps along country's golden quadrilateral highway. The development is likely to help in the long-term as the LNG pump infrastructure is almost non-existent in the country at the moment.
Industry stakeholders, government authorities, oil and gas companies, technical experts estimate that about 350 LNG pumps at the cost of around Rs 3,000-3,500 crore are required for covering the entire project. In comparison, CNG which is used primarily by vehicles for within city travelling currently has a network of over 1815 retail stations. The plan by the ministry of Oil & Gas is now to take it further to 10,000 by the end of next decade.
LNG for automotive usage is still at a very nascent state almost non existent though it is used in other industries such as fertilisers, power, City Gas among others. Most of the companies involved in its automotive usage are just in pilot-stage though there are some big plans for its usage by the end of next decade. As per SIAM recommendation, a proper LNG supply infrastructure is necessary before the vehicles make the shift. Some plans have been announced like Petronet is setting up 20 LNG stations at petrol pumps on highways along the country’s western coast that connects Delhi with Thiruvananthapuram covering a total distance of 4,500 km via Mumbai and Bangalore. Likewise, there are plans to commission stations along the Mumbai-Delhi corridor and also along National Highways to connecting Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Mundra, Chennai, Bangalore, Salem and Coimbatore. India is the fourth largest importer of LNG and demand is expected to rise as its usage gets more mainstream for long haul trucks.
Push towards developing gas hub
According to the blueprint set up by oil and gas ministry, around 20 companies comprising of State run and private companies are looking to lay 156,000 inch-kilometer of pipeline by the end of next decade. This, according to the stakeholders is to make natural gas more accessible across the length and breadth of the country.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the 'Review of guidelines for granting authorisation to market transportation fuels'. The revised guidelines see a much lower entry barrier for private players - the entities seeking authorisation would need to have a minimum net worth of Rs 250 crore compared to the current requirement of Rs 2,000 crore prior investment. The analysts claim that the announcement is likely to have a positive impact on push towards alternative fuels as it has been made part of the guidelines.
What is LNG?
LNG, which is a colourless and non-toxic liquid gets formed when the natural gas is cooled at -162ºC, thereby shrinking its volume by 600 times. The cooling process makes it safer for storage and shipping. When, LNG reaches its destination, it is brought back into gaseous form through regasification process before being supplied for residential and industrial usage including for vehicle mobility.