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DK. Sarraf: Is he taking too long to transit from ONGC to PNGRB chairman?
Dec 06: There is clearly no doubt that the PNGRB chairman D.K. Sarraf is a man of integrity. But there are some who believe that the transition from being the chairman of ONGC, where he had to take direct orders from his owner, the petroleum minister, to being the chairman of a regulatory body, in which he is an independent boss under a statutory act of Parliament, has not been an easy one for him.
8The fact that the PNGRB had called for suo moto EOIs for two pipeline networks all ending in Odisha, the petroleum minister's constituency, goes to show that Sarraf's mindset is still in transition mode, critics point out.
8That apart, Sarraf is now being accused of being non-transparent in his decision making in the PNGRB. In an open letter to the regulator, one private sector pipeline builder has sought answers for the following questions:
8Why is the PNGRB not web hosting the decision making process by which the Barauni-Guwahati pipeline has been declared an integral part of the Jagdishpur-Haldia-Bokaro-Dhamra pipeline.
8By that same logic, shouldn't the recently announced Mumbai-Angul pipeline too be a part of the Jagdishpur-Haldia-Bokaro-Dhamra pipeline?
8If suo moto EOIs can be sought for the Mumbai-Angul pipeline, why could a similar EOI not have been floated for the Barauni-Guwahati pipeline?
8Then again, there were specific directions from the petroleum ministry to authorize GAIL to extend the Jagdishpur-Haldia pipeline to Bokaro and Dhamra, were similar directions given for the Baruani-Guwahati pipeline?
8Has the Cabinet approved the revised viability gap of Rs 5000 crore for the entire Jagdishpur-Haldia-Bokaro-Dhamra pipeline, including the Barauni-Guwahati pipeline?
8If not, how was GAIL authorized to build the Barauni-Guwahati segment?
Comment: To be fair to both the petroleum minister and Sarraf, neither the Jagdishpur-Haldia nor its extension to Bokaro-Dhamra or the Barauni-Guwahati pipeline would have been build if a public sector company like GAIL was not there to shoulder the responsibility of doing so. There is not enough anchor load on these pipelines for them to be built by the private sector, without viability gap funding. This is one of the primary reasons why neither Sarraf nor Dharmendra Pradhan seems too enthusiastic as of now about the idea of splitting up GAIL into its transmission and trading segments. The logic is, unless you lay a pipeline, the demand for gas will not arise, and you need a monopoly like GAIL to build pipelines where others won't. A certain command-control structure will have to be there for a government enforced pipeline building spree. Yes, GAIL stymies competition and tramples on the rights of the gas consumer but then it also builds pipelines in places where the government wants it to. The EOI route is acceptable only when competition can be assured, not otherwise. Another way to build these pipelines could have been to ask the private sector to quote the lowest viability gap funding requirement, but then do we have private entities of the stature of GAIL to do such a job?
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