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Reliance-BP JV seeks licence to retail gas in 15 cities, IGL bids for 13

Press Trust of India/New Delhi 10 Jul 18 | 03:06 PM

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The Reliance-BP joint venture on Tuesday bid for licence to retail gas in 15 cities while Indraprastha Gas Ltd put in bids for 13 cities.

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Bidding for the biggest city gas distribution licensing round, offering 86 permits for selling CNG and piped cooking gas in 174 districts in 22 states and union territories, close this evening.

India Gas Solutions Pvt Ltd -- the 50:50 JV of UK's BP plc and Reliance Industries, is making its maiden foray in city gas distribution as it put in bid for 15 cities, sources said.

IGL, which retails CNG in the national capital region, is putting in bids for 13 cities, they said.

Essel Infraprojects Ltd has put in a total of seven bids.

As many as 86 geographical areas (GAs), made by clubbing adjacent districts, are on offer in the 9th city gas distribution (CGD) bidding round.

The GAs cover 24 per cent of the country's area and 29 per cent of its population.

ALSO READ: Ninth city gas distribution bidding may fetch Rs 700 billion, says report

The round is likely to attract investments of Rs 700 billion, according to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB).

The government is targeting to raise the share of natural gas in primary energy basket to 15 per cent from 6 per cent at present, within a few years.

The bid round is also aimed at meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's target of giving piped cooking gas connection to 10 million households, roughly triple the current size, by 2020.

The CGD licences on offer are for Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh; Ahmednagar in Maharashtra; Ludhiana and Jalandhar in Punjab; Barmer, Alwar and Kota in Rajasthan; Coimbatore and Salem in Tamil Nadu; Allahabad, Faizabad, Amethi and Rai Bareli in Uttar Pradesh; Dehradun in Uttarakhand and Burdwan in West Bengal.

Prior to the 9th round, 91 GAs were awarded to firms like Indraprastha Gas Ltd and GAIL Gas Ltd, which are serving 240 million population, 4.2 million domestic consumers and 3.1 million CNG vehicles.

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Of these, 56 GAs were awarded through bidding rounds and the rest on government nomination.

The bid round is being held on changed parameters after one paisa bids spoilt the initial auction rounds.

Bidders have been asked to quote the number of CNG stations to be set up and a number of domestic cooking gas connections to be given in the first eight years of operation.

In the previous eight rounds, bidders were asked to quote only the tariff for the pipeline that carries gas within the city limits. These bidding criteria did not include the rate at which an entity would sell CNG to automobiles or piped natural gas to households using the same pipeline network, leading to companies offering one paisa as the tariff to win licences.

In the new guidelines, maximum weightage of 50 per cent has been given to the number of piped gas connections proposed in eight years from the date of authorisation, as compared to 30 per cent earlier.

The number of CNG dispensing stations proposed to be set up has been assigned 20 per cent weightage. Length of the pipeline to be laid in the GA and the tariff proposed for city gas and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) have been assigned 10 per cent weightage each.

Also, a floor tariff of Rs 30 for city gas and Rs 2 per kg for CNG has been put in order to deter bidders from quoting unviable tariff of 1 paisa per unit.

ALSO READ: Indian govt reconsiders decision to split up gas utility Gail Ltd

Companies having a net worth of not less than Rs 1.5 billion can bid for cities with a population of 5 million and more while the same for cities with a population of 2 million to 5 million has been proposed at Rs 1 billion.

The net worth eligibility goes down with population, with a Rs 50 million net worth firm being eligible to bid for cities that have less than 1 million population.

Last few rounds of CGD have evoked a lukewarm response. The fourth round was altogether cancelled, while the fifth saw a sparse response.

The sixth round of bidding for 34 cities in 2015 got bids for only 20. The seventh round of bidding done to set up CGD infrastructure in 11 smart cities under smart city mission received only 1 bid.

Seven cities were offered in the 8th round last year but not all cities have been awarded so far.

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