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GAIL (India) completes Kochi-Mangaluru natural gas pipeline project

Tuesday, 17 Nov 2020
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The Kochi-Mangaluru natural gas pipeline project is finally ready for commissioning as natural gas company GAIL (India) has completed the final 540 mtr stretch across the Chandragiri river in northern Kerala. 
The 444 km long natural gas pipeline was launched in 2009 at an estimated cost of Rs 2,915 crore and was suppose to be commissioned in 2014. However opposition on safety and commercial grounds wherein the land price was the main hurdle resulted in delay in project. This resulted in the project cost nearly doubling to over Rs 5,750 crore. 
The company has completed the most difficult stretch across the Chandragiri river in Kasargod district of northern Kerala on 14 November 2020. Now the testing underway and this will be completed in the next two days. Within seven days itself gas will reach Mangaluru, Karnataka through the 444 km pipeline. 
A formal commissioning will be done later, according to the availability of the minister. 
The pipeline is charged up to Kannur now, and is live up to Kuttanand in Palakkad district; 90 km north of Kochi since June 2019 and of the remaining 354 km the line is ready up to Kannur. Kuttanad is the main junction of the project as from here the line bifurcates to Mangaluru and Bengaluru. 
Phase-I of the project was commissioned in August 2013 in the Kochi metropolitan area with industrial supplies and domestic supplies from February 2016 by Adani Gas. 
The pipeline now supplies 3.8 million cu mtr of gas every day to industrial and residential customers in Kochi. It is set to cross four million cu mtr soon in the Kochi itself, while Mangaluru has a potential of 2.5 million cu mtr per day. 
With the commissioning of the pipeline, gas demand in the state will touch 80-90 million cu mtr per annum from current 60 million cu mtr. 
The pipeline will provide a big boost to the Kochi LNT Terminal of Petronet which has a capacity of five million tonne annually, but 90 percent capacity has been idling due to the delay in completing the Kochi-Mangaluru natural gas pipeline and with the commissioning the capacity utilisation of the LNG terminal will go up to 25-30 percent. 
Apart from environmental gains, the state can also gain monetarily as the project can get up to Rs 1,000 crore by way of taxes alone. Also, supplying to the Kochi region alone helps the state earn over Rs 340 crore annually in tax revenue. 
The authorities were ready to complete the project in August 2020, however a 540 mtr stretch across the Chandragiri river became a hurdle. So as a way out they reduced the diameter of the pipe to a fourth -- from 24 inches to just six inches now. This is a temporary arrangement and the work to lay 24 inch pipe will resume soon after commissioning of the project and once ready the switch-over will not disrupt gas supply. 
The gas pipeline will supply gas to all seven districts it passes through Kerala -- Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasargod -- and the hilly Wayanad district. Of these already city gas distribution is on in Kochi where its supplies 3.8 million cu mtr of gas every day.
The company was working on 540 mtr river stretch since late April 2020 but got inordinately delayed as this stretch goes up to eight mtr deep in the river bed at some places and has an elevation difference of 148 mtr, as the river flows down a deep valley, making it one of the rarest engineering projects. 
The natural gas pipeline project crosses 96 water-bodies south of the Chandragiri river. The problem with this stretch is that the river flows down through a valley to the Arabian Sea, forcing the company to drill horizontally from under the river bed.  
The EPC contractor for this stretch was awarded to NR Patel & Company.
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