Mumbai: Fertilizer secretary Atul Chaturvedi said in an interview that additional gas was needed for the expansion and conversion of so-called brownfield projects, which involve addition of capacity at existing units. He added that 15.4 million standard cu. m per day (mscmd) of gas was needed for seven sick units. Edited excerpts:

Securing supplies: Atul Chaturvedi. PIB

You said that the sector needs additional 43.4 mscmd of gas. Can you take us through what that is required for?

We have said earlier also that we need gas for our expansion projects, conversion and also brownfield projects which we are in the process of reviving and the starting point of all these initiatives is the availability of feedstock, that is gas. So we have some projects which have already been identified which are going through conversion from fuel oil and naptha to gas. We have got some already existing plants which are contemplating expansion for which they need commitment of gas and we have got about six-seven erstwhile Fertilizer Corp. of India Ltd and Hindustan Fertilizer Corp. Ltd plants which we are contemplating to revive in near future. One of the essentials is to have the commitment for gas and the total gas requirement according to our estimates is around say 40 mscmd for all these initiatives and we have to get it from somewhere because that is a precondition for financial closure.

Specifically for reviving the closed plants, how much additional gas is required?

As a ballpark figure, each plant needs about 2.2 mscmd of gas (15.4 for seven).

From where will this 40 mscmd come?

We are in discussions with GAIL and the petroleum ministry. We were earlier allotted gas for standard assets and now that part is over. Now, we need either a long-term commitment from GAIL, which ...can procure it from international markets, or from other sources, or we can get (it) if gas is available from (Reliance Industries Ltd) KG D6 (gas fields)...

With respect to the KG -D6, I believe you have also requested a transportation tariff plan or policy. What exactly is your difference with what the policy indicates right now?

It is not with reference to KG D6 transportation. What we need is a total clarity on the transportation tariffs because the way it has been explained to us, the cost of transportation of gas to eastern part of India, say in Bihar or West Bengal or Jharkhand or Orissa, would be extremely high. We now have to take a call whether it is cheaper to transport gas or cheaper to transport fertilizer. Since these are large consumption areas and they had earlier fertilizer plants, what we need is a clear predictable policy...earlier it was only GAIL, which was the single supplier, and now with more players joining in and more pipelines coming in the future, I think we need a...more predictable transportation policy...