New Delhi, Dec. 5: Essar Oil, Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation are keen to bid for the Asansol-Howrah gas pipeline project.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) is expected to invite bids for the project later this month.
The 270-km pipeline will transport gas from coal bed methane (CBM) blocks in Bengal. The PNGRB had recently invited bids for the 1,700-km Surat-Paradip pipeline.
According to sources in the board, the three firms, holding stakes in the CBM blocks in the region, have expressed interest in the pipeline.
Y.K. Modi, chairman of Great Eastern Energy, said the firm would positively consider the opportunities in the region, while a senior ONGC official said it could open up a new revenue stream.
Great Eastern and ONGC did not say whether they would bid alone or in a joint venture with firms such as GAIL (India) Ltd, which has expertise in pipeline construction.
The Asansol-Howrah pipeline will connect the entire CBM producing zones in Jharkhand and Bengal to the consumption centres in the Calcutta region.
An extension of the pipeline may reach Haldia, the proposed terminal point of the Kakinada-Haldia trunk pipeline of Reliance.
Officials said most of the pipelines were concentrated in the north and west, leaving south and eastern India largely untouched.
India is planning to expand its network over the next two to three years. The present natural gas transportation infrastructure in the country is around 10,800 km with capacity to carry 270 million standard cubic metres of gas per day (mmscmd).
Major pipeline projects are underway, which will add another 7,450 km and 248mmscmd to our gas transport infrastructure. The additional capacity will result in the distribution of natural gas to 200 cities, oil ministry officials said.
Calcutta, Haldia, Burdwan and Durgapur are some of the cities in Bengal that will have city gas.
Discoveries by Reliance Industries in the Krishna-Godavari basin have almost doubled the availability of gas.
At present, around 40 cities and towns are covered by piped gas network. Piped natural gas in more big cities and metros will help to divert LPG supplies to rural areas.
A report by global consultancy firm McKinsey said the current demand of 166mmscmd is likely to rise to a minimum of 230mmscmd and a maximum of 320mmscmd by 2015.