India’s Ministry of Shipping is setting about introducing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)-powered barges to its waterways, with the first barges proposed for navigation of the Ganges by end of 2018. The Ministry last week followed up on the MOU between Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and Petronet LNG for providing an LNG based alternative, fuel efficient and environment-friendly mode of transport on National Waterways.
The MoU, signed at the Maritime India Summit in Mumbai in April, 2016, has the objective to promote the usage of LNG Barges on National Waterway-1 (Ganga or Ganges). Up to 17.5 MT of cargo is expected to be transported on NW-1 by 2020.
Both the options of switching over from the existing diesel to LNG barges and introduction of new LNG barges are being considered. Although the switching over from traditional fuel (diesel) to LNG will entail an initial capital expenditure, the investment is likely 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. As per the present pricing, operating LNG barges will be much cheaper than diesel. LNG Barges would be a step towards achieving the commitments made by the country at COP 21.
Petronet LNG Limited will design, construct and operate LNG unloading, storage, bunkering and reloading facilities on the National Waterways (NWs).
Four of the top public sector companies in the hydrocarbon sector of the country, viz. ONGC, Indian Oil Corporation, BPCL and GAIL own 50% of the equity in Petronet LNG, while 10% is held by GDF SUEZ and the balance 40% is held by the public. Action has already been initiated for preparing a Detailed Feasibility Report and it is expected to be completed by December, 2016. Petronet LNG Ltd plans to set up a base depot at Haldia and fuelling stations at Sahibganj (Jharkhand), Patna (Bihar) and Ghazipur (UP).
IWAI will facilitate the switchover of bunker fuel from diesel to LNG by persuading the barge owners and the operators about the benefits of LNG. IWAI will also provide land, wherever possible, for the setting up of LNG storage and will develop jetties to facilitate bunkering.The agencies responsible for framing and enforcing regulations related to the navigation of LNG Barges have been asked to study best practices and regulations on the subject for implementation in India.
IWAI was requested to explore the feasibility of seeking funding for the introduction of LNG Barges under the Ganga Action Plan.
As National Waterways in Goa offer immense opportunities in transportation of iron ore and are closer to LNG storage facilities, the introduction of LNG Barges is being considered for that region too.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) came into existence on 27th October 1986 for development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation. The Authority primarily undertakes projects for development and maintenance of IWT infrastructure on national waterways through grant received from Ministry of Shipping. The head office of the Authority is at Noida.
India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways, of which about 5,700 km is navigable by mechanized vessels.
(Source: Ministry of Shipping)