Independent operator for common carrier gas pipelines

New Delhi: The government is planning to set up an independent operator to manage common carrier capacity for all natural gas pipelines, which would give all gas marketers a level playing field going forward.

“An independent gas transport system operator will be set up for facilitation and coordination of booking of common carrier capacity in all natural gas pipelines on a non-discriminatory, open-access basis,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her budget speech.

ET was the first to report on December 28 that the government was planning to set up such an independent operator to meet the longstanding demand from industry to separate content and carriage and therefore remove the advantage that state-run gas marketer

enjoys due to its overwhelming control of the country’s gas pipelines.

With the establishment of an independent operator, all gas marketers will have equal and transparent access to the common carrier part of the gas pipelines and will be able to book capacity depending on its availability. Most gas pipelines are mandated to permit a part of their capacity for common usage.

The government also plans to monetise three oil and gas pipelines owned by GAIL, Indian Oil, and Hindustan Petroleum, Sitharaman said.

She also announced the extension of the Ujjwala scheme to 10 million more households.

Eighty million households have already benefited under the scheme, which offers free cooking gas connections to poor women.

The government also plans to add 100 additional districts to the city gas distribution network in the next three years.

City gas licenses distributed in recent years already cover about 70% of the country’s population.

A natural gas pipeline project will also be taken up in the Union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, Sitharaman said.

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