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GAIL resumes cargo operations at Dabhol

Press Trust of India / New Delhi 27 Apr 12 | 02:46 PM

State-owned gas utility GAIL India has resumed cargo operations at the nation's third liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Dabhol after it repaired fenders at the port that were damaged by rough sea.

A ship carrying maiden or the so called commissioning cargo, which will be used to prepare the site for commercial operations, had to move to high seas after the fenders lining the jetty got damaged.

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Fenders are bumpers used to absorb the kinetic energy of a berthing boat or vessel against the jetty.

Company officials said the fenders have been repaired and the ship has started discharging the cargo.

The LNG carrier, called Excelerate, at the end of March brought a cargo from Statoil ASA Snohvit LNG plant in the Barents Sea off Norway.

It had offloaded barely 5-10% of the cargo when operations had to be suspended last week and the vessel shifted to anchor.

"The vessel is back at the jetty and LNG has begun to be discharged from today," an official said adding the commissioning of the terminal will take few weeks as systems are being tested one by one.

GAIL owns 31.52% stake in Ratnagiri Gas and Power Co Ltd -- the firm that owns the 1967 MW power plant and adjacent 5 million tons a year LNG import terminal at Dabhol in Maharashtra. The power plant and LNG terminal were built by now bankrupt US energy major Enron Corp about a decade back.

Since it had been shut for so long, GAIL is taking all precautions in commissioning the terminal. The pipelines, storage tanks and other system are one-by-one tested by lowering temperature to minus 160 degrees Celsius.

LNG is natural gas that has been liquefied at minus 160 degrees Celsius for ease of transportation in ships. Once received, LNG is re-converted into its gaseous state and transported through pipelines to users like power plants.

Sources said the Belgian ship brought the commissioning cargo of 138,000 cubic metres around March 25 and was to start offloading from March 28.

However, the offloading was delayed as the shallow navigation channel to the port kept the ship away from the jetty for almost three weeks.

Ratnagiri Gas and Power Co (RGPPL) took over Dabhol in 2005 after the Enron's bankruptcy. The LNG terminal was 70-80% complete when RGPPL took over the plant.

GAIL mechanically completed the plant in late 2010 and dredging work of the sea-channel leading to the Dabhol port was completed last year.

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