Improving Connectivity: Still a long way to go for wider network coverage

Still a long way to go for wider network coverage

Pipelines play a critical role in matching the supply of oil and gas to demand. The present oil and gas transportation infrastructure in the country comprises crude oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines and product pipelines. As of April 2016, the total length of the oil, gas and product pipeline network stood at about 41,070 km, a growth of about 3.4 per cent over the previous fiscal year’s figure of 39,710 km. Segment-wise, natural gas and product pipelines account for almost 75 per cent of the total network length, while crude pipelines account for the rest.

The transmission segment is largely dominated by public sector players like Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Oil India Limited (OIL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), GAIL (India) Limited and Gujarat State Petronet Limited (GSPL). However, the sector has also witnessed the entry of private players like Cairn India, Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure Limited (RGTIL) and HPCL-Mittal Energy Limited.

Crude oil pipelines

India’s existing crude oil pipeline network extends over a length of 9,864 km (as of April 2016). The total design capacity of the network is about 129.6 million tonnes per annum (mtpa). In the past year, about 385 km of crude oil pipelines have been added to the network, registering a growth of about 4 per cent. In terms of geographical presence, most of India’s crude oil pipeline network is concentrated in northwestern and eastern India owing to the location of refineries near ports in those regions.

IOCL operates approximately 50 per cent of the crude oil pipelines in the country. The company operates some of the longest crude oil pipelines, such as the 1,870 km Salaya-Mathura-Panipat pipeline and the 1,384 km Paradip-Haldia-Barauni pipeline. In terms of design capacity, ONGC is the dominant player, accounting for almost 45 per cent of total capacity.

Natural gas pipelines

As of April 2016, India’s authorised natural gas pipeline network spanned a length of 16,233 km, with a combined design capacity of 431.29 million metric standard cubic metres per day (mmscmd). Of the total authorised network, about 14,494.2 km is operational and the re- maining 1,738.4 km is under implementation.

The gas transportation sector in the country is dominated by three major companies – GAIL, GSPL and RGTIL. Together, these companies account for 98 per cent of the total pipeline network and 95 per cent of the total transmission capacity. Other companies operating natural gas pipelines are Assam Gas Company Limited, IOCL, ONGC, Gujarat Gas Company Limited and Deepak Fertilizers & Petrochemicals.

Of the operational pipelines, GAIL’s 4,222 km Hazira-Vijaipur-Jagdishpur pipeline is the longest, while RGTIL’s 95 mmscmd east-west pipeline is the largest in terms of capacity.

Overall, about 13,785 km of natural gas pipeline network is currently under construction. About 12,047 km length with a design capacity of 545.76 mmscmd will be added by new pipeline projects. Another 1,738.41 km pipeline length will be added to the existing operational pipelines. Length-wise, the 2,538 km Jagdishpur-Haldia project being implemented by GAIL tops the list. The pipeline will pass through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha. Capacity-wise, Andhra Pradesh Gas’s Kakinada-Srikakulam pipeline project entails the maximum design capacity of 90 mmscmd.

Product pipelines

As of April 2016, India’s product pipeline network spanned a length 14,972 km with a design capacity to transport 97.7 mtpa of finished petroleum products and liquefied petroleum gas. Length-wise, this was an increase of about 4 per cent over the 14,423 km length in 2014-15.

IOCL operates approximately 45 per cent of the product pipelines in the country. The company operates some of the longest product pipelines, such as the 1,287 km Koyali-Sanganer pipeline from Gujarat to Rajasthan. In terms of design capacity too, IOCL is the dominant player, accounting for almost 40 per cent of the total capacity. HPCL has the second largest share of product pipelines, with a network of about 2,957 km. Other key players in the segment include OIL, BPCL and Petronet India.

The way forward

Overall, the oil and gas transmission pipeline segment is expected to draw significant investments in the future through the development of cross-country pipelines and additional pipelines that help realise the objective of a national gas grid. Investments by oil marketing companies are also expected to facilitate the expansion of transportation networks. However, pressing concerns regarding land acquisition, delays in project clearances and uncertainty in the regulatory environment need to be addressed to sustain the growth momentum.