Tarun Gogoi, the Chief Minister of Assam, has requested the petroleum ministry to provide a National Grid link to the State. In a letter to the ministry, the CM has stated that the production of natural gas in Assam started five decades ago but utilization of the gas in the State has been confined mainly in the operational areas of Oil India Ltd. (OIL) and ONGC in five districts of the State. Assam Gas Company Ltd. (AGCL) which is a pioneer in natural gas transmission and distribution activities in the country is operating in only five districts of upper Assam due to paucity of gas and is presently handling about 6 MMSCMD which is nearly 90 per cent of OIL’s total gas production of Assam.
Tarun Gogoi further mentioned that the State government is keen to ensure that AGCL covers the entire Assam with a natural gas network. A task force was formed in late 2008 for this purpose where all gas producers, namely OIL, ONGC and Canoro Resources were represented along with Assam Gas Company, Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Numaligarh Refinery, and Assam Power Generation Company. However, none of the producers could confirm firm gas delivery on a sustained basis and therefore, the project had to be kept in abeyance.
The CM stated that the gas pipeline infrastructure, as per a map published by Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board in 2010, is skewed towards Western, Northern and Southern India. The North East seems to have been left behind in the development of gas transportation and distribution infrastructure. The natural gas should be made available to all parts of the country including Assam and the North East on an equitable basis, he asserted. He suggested that the gas fields of upper Assam may be linked to the National Gas Grid for a true integration of the National Gas Grid across the entire country.
In view this, the CM asked the ministry to consider taking necessary steps to rectify the skewed development of gas pipeline infrastructure and provide a National Gas Grid link to Assam. He further stated that GAIL has started work on executing the Jagdishpur-Haldia Gas Pipeline. In this connection, Assam Gas Company Ltd has already made a request to GAIL for tapping the Jagdishpur – Haldia Gas Pipeline at Gaya and to construct a gas pipeline to North Bengal/Assam border from where AGCL can take over the gas for transmission and distribution within Assam and other North Eastern States.
He also requested the Central government to provide the necessary support by taking it up as a long term Infrastructure project with tax holidays and provide capital subsidy/ viability gap funding to the executing agency.