Is gas genuinely available at an affordable price !
Is future all Gas?
New Delhi: Is gas genuinely available at an affordable price? it’s a question of a million dollars. The Road Show on 12th CGD Bidding Round, held yesterday, at Hotel Taj Mahal New Delhi, was a a bit of a mixed bag. The purpose of PNGRB is to protect the interests of consumers and entities engaged in specified activities relating to petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas and to promote competitive markets and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The Board is also to regulate refining, processing, storage, transportation, distribution, marketing and sale of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas excluding production of crude oil and natural gas so as and to ensure uninterrupted and adequate supply of petroleum, petroleum products and natural gas in all parts of the country. However, most Industry insiders know that PNGRB was essentially formed to push the interests of private players and is by and large been tinkering around Pipeline Laying and Usage along with City Gas Distribution.
At the outset, there are few observations which NewsIP has to make, before this particular Road Show can be deliberated upon. In a lighter vein, one wonders why such events are called Road Shows? Since the shows are neither held on roads nor in the proximity of regions which it purports to serve.
In this bidding round, seven Geographical Areas (GA) of five North East states viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland & Sikkim and UTs of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh are to be covered. It would have been quite appropriate to hold the Road Show in the North East or J&K to convey genuine concern for consumers and building confidence of the local public. It’s important that the consumers, at least a select few or their forums should get involved in the process, right from the beginning, to avoid complications later. After all, it’s a matter of not only the suppliers but equally of ultimate consumers as well. And pray why the term “Bidding”? It appears to be a misnomer and gives a somewhat false impression.
Today we are all aware that Gas is considered a transitional fuel (after all Gas is also a fossil fuel) in the aim towards Net Zero for many countries. India believes it can achieve it by 2070. Interestingly, neither India nor many nations have let go of investments in liquid fossil fuels.
One can understand the hedging part but are the high investments justified? Since we import 80-85 % of fossil fuel requirements does it not make sense for India to wean from traditional, convenient, energy sources and invest big on alternates & renewables? Indian policy makers need to be more creative and not be driven solely by vendors and quick return seeking private players.
We have seen how an epidemic, distant war or climate disaster can have a calamitous impact on a nation’s economy. Energy independence is as important as national independence today. So the fundamental approach of investing in transitional fuels may also need a relook.It’s not that auto buyers have a strong desire for Gas Based vehicles, they fully know the pitfalls of inadequate and ill equipped supplies.
The fact is that the automobile industry is not in position to provide cheap EVs in considerable numbers, else most buyers will go for them. And ,EVs are certainly a better option than Gas Based automobiles. But then, PNGRB is a mere regulatory board, which has to also justify its raison d’être.
As regards the 12th CGD bidding,NewsIp wants to convey its best wishes. But it also would like to carry the voice of the thousands of its patrons. One such issue which has been highlighted time and again is about the failure of Gas Companies to successfully meet the demands of its consumers – industrial or small consumers.
The difficulties faced by Power Companies, Fertilizer Companies, Industrial Units due to lack of supply of Gas is well documented. Come times of peak demands, other Ministries like Power, Coal etc. advise large consumers to make alternate arrangements like using coal or importing their own gas requirements. There are long queues of cars before filling stations of CNG. This phenomenon has not been addressed satisfactorily till now.
Why still liquid fuel is being used to augment needs of Gas run vehicles? One understands that infrastructure development takes time but how much time? In the current Road Show also speaker after speaker talked about how gas is going to be the prime energy source for decades to come, the time horizon was next 30- 40 years but the world is moving at a lightening pace. There should be more concrete plans for next 2 to 5 years rather than looking at horizons which are far too distant.
Another issue of serious concern is the skewed marketing practices of Oil & Gas Sector. The PSUs are often tasked with ensuring inland fuel supplies and remote location supplies while most private players make money through Exports and lucrative Metro Sales. What happens to the much touted playing field here? Why can’t PSUs also export a percent of their production? Maybe, on a formula which ensures Private Players also play their role more directly in nation building. In fact, it’s quite possible that in the latest round of CGD bids, PSUs would ultimately land up laying infrastructure for difficult and border areas while private players get the more meaty areas. Can PNGRB ensure a more equitable distribution? Maybe on the lines of route reservations for Airlines.
Its ironical that profitability is also talked in same breath as making fuel available in remote areas. When will policy makers admit that the orientation of private players is sheer profits, appealing to their higher senses would only elicit responses that we are into business and not for charity. Of course, once the PSUs become profitable they can always be privatized. Again, first mover advantage is for books only, as one has seen in Aviation Fuel Business. All in all, this bid should be on predictable lines and apart from an S&D perspective it may not hold much cheer for the consumers. For them it may be better late than never. The Road Show speakers seemed to lack the enthusiasm and belief in their own averments. Q&A was dispensed with. The participants appeared to go through the motions for the sake of the event. In name of knowledge sharing nothing path breaking was made public.
The event somehow seemed to lack the vibrancy it ought to have had. Of course, the prospective bidders have their own assessments and hopefully some would come forward willingly and bid…More PNGRB Related to NewsIP