GAIL not supplying gas to NFCL unit is safety hazard, says fertiliser ministry

Written by Siddhartha P Saikia | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 16 2014, 08:11am hrs
Disruption of GAIL (India)'s gas supplies to Nagarjuna Fertilizers Chemicals (NFCL) Kakinada unit in Andhra Pradesh is leading to safety issues at the plant, the fertiliser ministry wrote to the petroleum ministry recently. Besides, the ministry has said, stoppage of supplies could also potentially result in shortage of the fertiliser during kharif season.

On June 27, a fire broke out following a blast in GAILs pipeline in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Following the accident, gas from RIL-operated KG D6 block, which is being transported through the pipeline from Oduru to NFCL plants, has been isolated by GAIL since July 7, resulting in no gas being supplied to the fertiliser complex.

The ministry wants the petroleum ministry to instruct GAIL to immediately resume gas supplies. After inspection of the pipeline, it would be appropriate to continue supply of 3.255 mmscmd of natural gas to NFCL including the shortfall of 0.755 mmscmd, the fertiliser ministry said in a recent communication to the petroleum ministry.

Due to GAIL's pipeline blast, the supply of APM gas, non-APM gas and KG-D6 to NFCL, Kakinada, has been suspended by GAIL. However, the supply of natural gas has also been suspended by GAIL from pipelines not affected in the recent blast. Now, due to lower/non-supply of natural gas, the NFCL plant is unable to run on full capacity, resulting in high energy consumption and thereby making production nonviable, which may lead to shutdown of the urea plant.

The fertiliser ministry has informed the petroleum ministry that fertiliser complexes become accident hazards due to non-availability of natural gas. This is because captive power generation is not working to run the essential safety drives for liquid ammonia storage refrigeration and utilities like fire water, service water, instrument air and nitrogen producing units. Therefore, it is imperative to resume gas supplies, otherwise the plant is exposed to the risk of accident and environmental emissions, which may be catastrophic in nature, the ministry wrote to the petroleum ministry.

The fertiliser ministry also added that GAIL has made preparations to check the integrity of the total piping network for gas supplies but inspection and repair is yet to start. Therefore, it is imperative that the pipeline transporting RIL gas to NFCL plants be inspected on priority and put into service at the earliest to resume supplies, it said. A seni-or official at GAIL told FE work is progressing and all supplies would be resumed this month.