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India's Ministry of Shipping wants LNG barges on inland waterways by Dec 2018

15 Jun 2016 08:25 GMT

Plan to introduce LNG-fuelled barges is being undertaken by the Indian government and Petronet LNG.

In a follow up to an agreement signed in April 2016, India's Ministry of Shipping has announced that the plan to bring liquid petroleum gas (LNG) barges to the inland waterways is expected to commence navigation by the end of 2018.

The project to introduce LNG barges and encourage fuel-efficient cargo transportation and minimise pollution is being undertaken by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and Petronet LNG, who will now co-ordinate their work plans on National Waterway-1(Ganga).

Established by the government of India to import liquefied natural gas, Petronet LNG's ownership is formed of four of the top public sector companies in the hydrocarbon sector. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and GAIL own 50% of the equity, while 10% is held by GDF Suez and the remaining 40% is owned by the public.

Petronet LNG will design, construct and operate LNG unloading, storage, bunkering and reloading facilities on the National Waterways (NWs), whilst IWAI is to facilitate the switchover to LNG by persuading barge owners and operators of the benefits of LNG. IWAI will also provide land, for the setting up of LNG storage and will develop jetties to facilitate bunkering.

Although switching from traditional fuel (diesel) to LNG will entail an initial capital expenditure, the investment is expected to be recovered in four to five years at current prices. Higher fuel efficiency and negligible pollution are major attendant benefits of the new fuel.

The Ministry of Shipping notes that there is a potential for 17.5 MT of cargo on National Waterway-1 (Ganga) by 2020 and is encouraging IWAI to explore funding options for the introduction of LNG barges under the Ganga Action Plan.

Further opportunities to utilise LNG barges on national waterways are being explored. Due to its proximity to LNG storage facilities, National Waterways in Goa offer immense opportunities in transportation of iron ore and, as a result, the introduction of LNG barges is also being considered for that region.

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