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Operationsat the Dabhol Power plant have tripped again following the stoppage of gassupply from the KG-D6 field. This delivers another blow to the project that hasbeen mired in trouble ever since it was conceived by Enron two decades ago.
The 1,967MW coastal plant between Mumbai and Goa, has facilities to import 5 milliontonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) a year but this works out to be toocostly to find buyers for electricity. This has cast a shadow on the future ofthe plant, which is now run by Ratnagiri Gas & Power (RGPPL), a jointventure between NTPC and Gail India . It has neverreceived even half of the 7.6 million metric standard cubic metres a day(mmscmd) of gas it was allocated.
"OnFriday, we stopped receiving natural gas, which was already reduced to lessthan 0.25 mmscmd. We are unsure about the plant's operations as there is nocertainty of fuel supplies," RGPPL MD Manash Sarkar told ET.
He addedthat RGPPL customers would not purchase expensive power generated fromexpensive R-LNG. Maharashtra buys 95 per cent of the plant's power, while Goapurchases 1 per cent. The union territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra andNagar Haveli consume 2 per cent each. When the plant was run by Enron, beforethe US energy giant became bankrupt in 2001, it was mothballed after a billingdispute with Maharashtra. Since its inception RGPPL better known as Dabholpower project has been facing rough weather.
AfterEnron's bankruptcy, the centre mandated NTPC, Gail and the Maharashtragovernment to form a JV, under the banner of RGPPL, to implement themuch-needed project for the state. The JV partners had also found achievingfinancial closure for the project a challenge. Now, non-availability of cheapdomestic natural gas has raised a question mark on the survival of thebeleaguered project yet again.
RGPPL wasallocated 7.6 mmscmd of natural gas from KGD6 and 0.9 mmscmd from Gail's poolas against its requirement of 9.2 mmscmd to operate at full capacity. Theproject never received more than 3 mmscmd of natural gas during its three yearof operations. In mid 2012, fuel supply came down to 2 mmscmd and dwindled tozero last week. In February, it managed to generate 102.28 million units amidstinconsistent natural gas supplies. "From 60 per cent in April 2012, plantload factor came down to 5.2 per cent last month.
InJanuary, natural gas supply came down to 1 mmscmd, which dropped to 0.5-0.25mmscmd subsequently," a senior RGPPL official told ET requestinganonymity. In October 2012, the plant was could utilise only 900 MW of capacitydue to inadequate fuel supply. Till today, plant has supplied 47 billion unitsof power to the western grid, said the senior official.
A numberof natural gas-fired power projects are ailing on account of fall in productionin D6. Reliance Power's Samalkot plant is idling for want of gas, TorrentPower's 1147 MW Sugen Project's PLF dropped to 35.95 per cent in Q3 2012-13from 70.41 per cent in corresponding period of the previous fiscal.
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