New Delhi: State-run gas firm GAIL (India) has delivered the first ever gas to the Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra, paving the way for the beleaguered unit to switch from expensive naphtha to the cheaper green fuel.
“We delivered first gas to Dabhol plant around midnight on 10 July,” GAIL chairman and managing director U D Choubey told PTI here.
Gas was transported via a 577-km pipeline from Dahej in Gujarat where Petronet LNG is importing 1.25 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) 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 between state-owned power major NTPC Ltd, GAIL and Indian banks. RGPPL had restarted generation from naphtha in May last year.