IT’S race against time for Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure (RGTIL) and Essar Steel for construction of their pipelines. RGTIL’s Kakinada-Basudebpur-Howrah gas pipeline and Essar’s Dabuna-Paradeep slurry pipeline would cross over in Orissa. The company that lays its pipeline first may be able to claim ownership of the junction while the other may have to follow security-related regulations. This assumes significance as a huge pipeline infrastructure is being built over five years to supply natural gas to domestic and industrial consumers.
The government may come up with conditions in cases where the pipelines of two companies cross at a point. Consequently, the company completing the project first would enjoy owner pipeline status with the power to block the other project in case of conflict of interest.
The unique situation has arisen in the case of Reliance Industries (RIL) affiliate RGTIL’s proposed Kakinada-Howrah gas pipeline and the Dabuna-Paradeep iron ore slurry pipeline of Essar Steel Orissa. The pipelines are expected to cross over at certain places. As this poses safety risks, the government has decided the pipeline constructed first would be given the owner tag and the second pipeline would be called the other pipeline. The other pipeline would have to seek government permission and follow stringent guidelines for crossing the owner’s pipeline.
“The crossing of pipelines has created a new challenge for the policy makers. In the case of RGTIL and Essar Steel, as the two projects are yet to begin construction, we have decided the pipeline coming later would have to follow technical and safety guidelines to ensure seamless crossing over,” a ministry of petroleum & natural gas official said.
RGTIL’s 1,100-km Kakinada-Basudebpur-Howrah gas pipeline has been authorised by the ministry. The company also proposes to extend the line from Basudebpur to Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh via Cuttack, a distance of 1,200 km. The pipeline is intended to feed the industrial belt.
The Essar Steel Orissa’s proposal for a 254-km long iron ore slurry pipeline would feed its proposed sixmillion-tonne steel plant in the state. Essar would set up an iron ore benefaction plant near Barbil in Keonjhar
district from where ore would be carried to Paradeep through a 254-km long slurry pipeline.
The proposed policy, vetted by the Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD), for crossing puts the other pipeline at a considerable disadvantage compared to the owner pipeline on security grounds. As per the policy, the other pipeline would have to be installed below the owner’s pipeline and the pipes would need to have thick walls to withstand pressure. At the crossing point, there can be no joint on the other pipeline and only a full length pretested pipeline of around 12 m would be used under the existing owner’s pipeline, sources said.
The policy also makes the owner of the other pipeline liable for damages caused in the process of installation. In case of damage, the owner of the other pipeline would bear the repair cost. Besides, the company would also have to inform the owner before starting maintenance work in the pipeline.