Govt to implement “common carrier” principle

Govt to implement “common carrier” principle

Petroleum Secretary Tarun Kapoor told media sources last week that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) was taking approvals for segregating the country's existing gas pipeline infrastructure to identify the portion of the infrastructure that will be needed to aid common carriers.

The government proposes the appointment of independent gas pipeline operators in the country to operationalise the “common carrier” principle that will allow all producers and consumers access to fuel transport infrastructure. The term was originally used to denote hardware or media platforms that are agnostic of the value of content.

As part of the plan, a transport system operator (TSO) would be incorporated to manage the gas pipeline infrastructure's common carrier. The TSO will be entrusted with the task of booking pipeline capacity for gas transport from producers to the consumers on payment of a fee, to be decided by the regulator.

The identification of a common portion of the gas pipeline may involve bifurcation of operations of gas utility GAIL India, into gas transportation and marketing. The gas transportation arm may then be put under an independent TSO.

The Petroleum Ministry's current work also involves evaluating various ownership models that may be put in place for streamlining gas transport operations in the country.

GAIL is the country's largest natural gas marketing and trading company and owns more than two-thirds of the country's over 16,000 km long pipeline network, giving it a stronghold in the market.

Natural gas users have often complained about not getting access to GAIL's 11,500 km pipeline network that can support other operations as well.

As part of the development of a gas-based economy, the government proposes to increase the share of natural gas in the country's energy sector to 15% by 2030, from the current share of around 6%. Development and easy access to gas infrastructure would play a key role in achieving the target.

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