The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bengal in Reliance toss-up

Calcutta, Aug. 24: Reliance is exploring the possibility of setting up a gas-based power plant either in Bengal or Orissa.

Sources said the group’s power arm, Reliance Energy Ltd (REL), has already done market survey in these two states for a 1,000-mw power plant to be fuelled by gas. The investment for the project will be around Rs 5,000 crore, they added.

Reliance group vice-chairman Anil Ambani, who looks after the energy wing, had called on Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

On Saturday, the chief minister had met Anil’s brother and Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani at ‘Doing Business in Bengal’, an investment promotion programme organised by ABP Ltd. Bhattacharjee had then told Mukesh: “I still feel that Bengal is not on your (Reliance’s) map.”

The sources said the port town of Haldia is one of the places Reliance is looking at for the proposed power plant. “In Haldia, the group already has land and a reasonably good investment programme,” said a source.

Reliance is setting up an oil terminal in Haldia through which it intends to cater to the demands in the eastern and northeastern region. According to the sources, the company also plans to use the terminal to meet demands in South Asian countries.

The sources said there are other places in the eastern region where the group is looking for investment opportunities in the power sector as several new industries are coming up. “In Orissa alone, a 100 per cent growth in demand will take place in the power sector when various projects, which are coming up, are completed. In Bengal, too, the demand for more power will come in the next couple of years,” said a source.

As the Krishna-Godavari basin, where Reliance Industries had one of the largest gas finds a couple of years ago, is on the eastern coast, bringing gas to fuel the power projects in the east will be much easier, the sources added.

The total gas finds in the D6 Block in the Krishna-Godavari basin, in which REL has 90 per cent stake, is estimated at over 14 trillion cubic feet. The group intends to use a greater portion of this gas to generate power through REL.

REL also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the Uttar Pradesh government for setting up a 3,740-mw plant near Dadri. The Rs 11,000-crore project, when completed, will be the largest gas-based power plant in the world.

The company currently supplies 5,000 mw to over five million consumers in the country.

“The group’s mission is to become a complete global integrated energy player in the next five years,” said a source.

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