The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Decks cleared for Siliguri oil hotline

New Delhi, Sept. 22: A pipeline stretching from Golaghat district of Assam to Siliguri in West Bengal will be ready in two years' time to provide a seamless, all-weather transport system for petrol, diesel and kerosene produced at Numaligarh Refinery Ltd.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today approved the Rs 468.92-crore proposal, which, if executed according to plan, will enable Assam's fourth and newest refinery to transport 1.72 million tonnes of petroleum products annually to Siliguri.

The project had been held up by the railways, which anticipated freight losses after the pipeline is ready.

The inability of the railways to provide adequate number of wagons to transport NRL products leads to excessive stocks piling up at storage tanks of the refinery. The refinery has to be put on slow mode or even stopped completely during the monsoon, when flooded tracks throw railway operations in Assam out of gear.

The proposed pipeline will not only provide Numaligarh Refinery Ltd an efficient transport system, but also enable it to operate at full capacity at all times.

NRL has an installed capacity of 3 million tonnes per annum, but has been operating only at 2.1 million tonnes because of the railways' failure to meet its transportation needs.

The petroleum ministry pointed out that with an additional output of 0.9 million tonnes, Siliguri would develop into a huge depot from where the railways could carry petroleum products to the rest of the country.

The freight earnings of the railways from NRL are projected to go up from Rs 312 crore at present to Rs 350 crore.

The enhanced capacity utilisation is also expected to substantially improve NRL's profitability.

Oil India Ltd already has a 259-km line from Numaligarh to Guwahati, and work on the 401-km loop line to Siliguri will start shortly.

About 80 per cent of NRL's output is transported outside the Northeast.

NRL is dependent on its parent company, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, for marketing of its products. Most of the retail outlets in the region are owned by Indian Oil Corporation, which prefers to lift products from its own refineries.

Bharat Petroleum has to bring NRL products for sale to the north and eastern parts of the country, where it has a strong retail network.

P.K. Bora, NRL's deputy general manager of planning, coordination and corporate communications, told the media in Guwahati tonight that the Numaligarh-Siliguri pipeline would boost the efficiency of all operations.

'Numaligarh Refinery Ltd has already initiated the construction of a receiving terminal in Siliguri. We plan to synchronise the completion of the terminal with the completion of the pipeline,' he said.

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