Dabhol operating at one-third capacity due to gas shortage

RATNAGIRI, (MAHARASHTRA), Oct 7: The beleaguered Dabhol power plant is running at less than one-third its capacity as natural gas supplies have dipped despite the government giving it top priority in allocation of fuel.
The 1,967 mega-watt station – India’s largest gas-fired power plant that was originally built by now bankrupt US energy major Enron Corp and revived after a mammoth government effort – is producing only 630 MW electricity.
The plant needs a total of 9.2 million cubic metres of gas per day. It was allocated 7.6 mmcmd from KG-D6 field of Reliance Industries to enable the plant to operate at least 70 per cent of its capacity but it is currently getting only 3 mmcmd, plant head Arun Kumar Garg told reporters here.
Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt Ltd, as the project was rechristened as, was in February this year accorded top priority at par with fertiliser plants in getting KG-D6 gas.
This meant in event of KG-D6 output dropping below volumes already committed to industries across sector, the full committed requirement of Dabhol and urea plants would be first met before others given pro-rated supplies.
The oil ministry first took more than five months to implement this decision taken at by an Empowered Group of Ministers on February 24 and then put it hold within days of it being brought into effect as Andhra Pradesh power plants protested drop in supplies.
“Currently only 33 per cent (gas) requirement is being met and the plant is running at 35 per cent efficiency or Plant Load Factor,” RGPPL General Manager Arun Kumar Garg said.
RGPPL is now co-owned by state-owned power producer NTPC, gas utility GAIL, Maharashtra State Electricity Board and lenders (IDBI Bank, SBI, ICICI Bank and Canara Bank).
“We are getting less than half of the allocated quantity and about 630 MW of power is being generated,” Garg said.
The plant, which has the capacity to produce 17,000 million units, produced about 11,000 million units in 2011-12.
“We could have generated at least 25 per cent more had there been gas,” he said.
Power Minister M Veerapa Moily has said he would take up the issue of priority supplies to the project with the EGoM.
With RIL reporting a 55 per cent output drop to 27.5 mmcmd, 15.6 mmcmd of KG-D6 gas is first being supplied to 16 fertiliser units and 2.6 mmcmd to LPG manufacturing plants.
The remaining 9.3 mmcmd is being prorated among power plants.
RGPPL was incorporated under the Companies’ Act, 1956 on July 8, 2005 to takeover, revive and restart the abandoned assets of Dabhol Power Company at Ratnagiri, Maharashtra.
RGPPL took over the assets on October 5, 2005 and gradually revived them. The formation and its restart by RGPPL was part of a restructuring plan finalised by an Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) of the government.
NTPC and GAIL hold 32.47 per cent each in the company, 16.94 per cent is held by Maharashtra State Electricity Board and 18.12 per cent by IDBI Bank, ICICI Bank, Canara Bank and SBI.
Maharashtra gets 95 per cent of the power generated by the plant while Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli get 2 per cent each. Goa received the remaining 1 per cent.
The first phase (740 MW) was commissioned in May, 1999. The fuel used for phase-I was naphtha, which was to be changed to LNG upon completion of phase-II coincident with the commissioning of the LNG terminal.
Construction on second phase (1,444 MW) was more than 90 per cent complete and that on the associated LNG facility, about 85 per cent complete when the operations of Phase-I and commissioning activities of phase-II were suspended in May 2001 following disputes between DPC and MSEB.
The tariff of phase-I was quite high mainly due to the high cost of the fuel (naphtha) and fall of the rupee vis-a-vis the US dollar.
Further, the project ran into a contractual dispute between MSEB and Dabhol Power Company Ltd. Since May, 2001, the entire activities at the project site came to a halt.
In March 2002, the Indian lenders to the project moved Bombay High Court and a Court Receiver was appointed for protection and preservation of the project assets.
The Court Receiver in turn appointed Punj Lloyd for undertaking preservation of the assets. This company has preserved the assets till the takeover by RGPPL of the assets on the basis of Mumbai High Court’s order. (PTI)

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