There is opportunity for 6,000 km of gas pipelines in the Indian horizon, needing upgrade in technology, Amit Gupta, CEO, Pipelines and Terminals, Essar Projects, Says.
Essar Pipelines and Terminals recently completed a 48-inch, 330 km high-pressure gas pipeline for GAIL, probably the longest large diameter pipeline that any contractor in India has done. The pipeline extends from Vijaipur in Madhya Pradesh to Dadri near Delhi. This was one of the few projects where 48 inches has been used.
Handling a 48-inch high-pressure gas pipeline is a challenging thing. “We used automatic welding and to test joints, we used automatic ultrasonic testing instead of radiography,” says Amit Gupta, CEO, Pipelines and Terminals.
Pipelines and Terminals use intelligent pigging; one of their clients GSPL who gives them a contract on EPC basis, makes it mandatory. Normally, clients go for caliper pigging and stop at that.
Gupta explains caliper pigging as a process to measure the 'roundness' of the pipeline. It is like a magnetic flux that will detect the surface pitting and corrosion, as well as cracks and weld defects in steel pipeline.
More developers should adopt intelligent pigging, says Gupta. “When you are laying a pipeline for the first time, it is a brand new pipeline, so you do not really expect corrosions to occur. All these pipes have been physically tested in the labs and factories and they have been tested with the requisite measures so, at that point of time, pigging does not make a lot of sense. It is only after a couple of years when you have run the pipeline and expect some corrosions to happen, that's where you run intelligent pigging.”
Basically, to run the PIG (Pipeline Indicate Gauge), a differential pressure is created between both the sides. With that differential pressure the PIG is launched and velocity needs to be maintained. If velocity over- shoots, then it will not be able to record the data, so it needs to be run at a smooth velocity; with these sensors, the data is captured and the entire data is taken on software and interpretations are done.
Pipelines, says Gupta, are basically designed factoring in the corrosion losses that would be there. “Normally we do not anticipate any corrosion to happen just because we are running it. It is only when we see another pipeline which in the viscinity has not been protected or some areas where we feel might be some disturbances, then you need to check the health of the pipeline.”
Having spent almost 18 years in this business in India, Gupta sees big growth opportunity in the gas sector in India, with 4,000 km of pipeline awaiting work; they peg their anticpated share at 30 per cent.
Infrastructure-wise, avers Gupta, “we are still way behind other countries. Even Pakistan for example, which is small compared to us, has more kilometres of gas pipeline than India. If you look at the American market, we are far behind. America has close to about 400,000 km of gas pipeline. India does not have even 15, 000 km. Then again, with the present gas discoveries, Gupta envisages about 6, 000 km more of gas pipeline.
In India, they have GSPL, the biggest, with close to 4,000 km followed by GAIL with almost 2,000 km lined up. Gupta feels the prospects for CBM are good because the cost of production is low as compared to other gases and you need not go for a big capital investment. However, one problem is that most of these beds are in the forest area, so environment clearance is an issue.
Land issues are predominantly compensation-related. Indian law is very old which talks about giving 10 per cent compensation to the farmers. As the land is a limited commodity, and land values have appreciated more than 10-20 times, people are not willing to let go of property. Land value depreciates drastically if a gas pipeline or hydrocarbon pipeline is passed through it.