GAIL agrees to lend Rs500 cr to Dabhol

GAIL agrees to lend Rs500 cr to Dabhol
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First Published: Wed, Jun 27 2007. 12 43 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Jun 27 2007. 12 43 PM IST
New Delhi: State-run gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd has agreed to infuse an additional Rs 500 crore into Ratnagiri Gas and Power Pvt Ltd to enable the owner of the beleaguered Dabhol plant to clear pending dues of contractors.
The GAIL board has cleared infusion of additional funds to enable RGPPL to pay Punj Lloyd and its British partner Whessoe, the contractors for completing the unfinished LNG terminal adjacent to the plant, industry sources said.
The board had earlier objected to GAIL, a promoter of RGPPL, lending Rs500 crore to RGPPL on grounds that a public sector firm can only give loan to a sister PSU or a rated firm — RGPPL lacking both the qualification.
However, late last month the board approved the infusion in lieu of rights to match the highest bid for the 5 million tonnes LNG import terminal if it is sold after hiving off from the 2,150MW power plant, sources said.
The Empowered Group of Minister (EGoM) headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had asked GAIL to infuse additional funds to clear outstanding bills of contractors who had threatened legal action in case of default.
GAIL and power utility NTPC had invested Rs 500 crore each to take 28.33% stake in RGPPL at the time of taking over Dabhol assets. Maharasthra State Electricity Board and IDBI-led lenders own the remaining equity in the company.
RGPPL had in May 2006 hired Punj Lloyd and UK’s Whessoe to complete the LNG terminal but work had almost come to halt since December as RGPPL was not paying bills. Dutch marine contractor Van Oord too had been hit by unpaid bills.
The Punj Lloyd-Whessoe joint venture was given a Rs 500 crore contract to complete three LNG storage tanks, jetty and regassification facilities, while Van Oord was assigned a Rs66-crore task of dredging the Dabhol port and channel to allow LNG tankers to berth.
Till March-end, RGPPL had paid only Rs68 crore against Rs317 crore worth of work executed on LNG jetty and dredging. Bills worth Rs 265 crore were pending with RGPPL.
RGPPL requires Rs450 crore for revival of power plants and Rs565 crore for the LNG works, but the cash-starved company, which has been running on loans from financial institutions, does not have the money to pay the contractors, the sources said.
When contacted, Punj Lloyd chairman Atul Punj said they have not received the payments for work executed, but have so far not initiated any legal action. The company was hopeful of getting the payments soon, he said.
Besides RGPPL, public sector units like GAIL (India) owe the company another Rs150 crore to Punj Lloyd, Punj added.
When RGPPL took over the Dabhol project in 2005, only one of the three power blocks was in operational condition and the LNG terminal was 85 per cent complete.
RGPPL had in April this year awarded a contract to GE and state-run BHEL for completion of Block-III (740 MW) and Block-I (670 MW). Block-III is to be completed by July/August and Block-I by January 2008.
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First Published: Wed, Jun 27 2007. 12 43 PM IST
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