Work on the KKBMPL Phase-II project — estimated to cost Rs 2,915 cr — connecting Kochi to Bengaluru and Koottanad to Mangalore started in January, 2012.
After much delay and controversy, the Kochi-Koottanad-Bengaluru-Mangalore Pipeline project (KKBMPL) is ready for take-off, with the Kochi-Koottanad (Thrissur) stretch of the pipeline likely to be commissioned by the month-end. The proposed energy grid connecting Bengaluru and Mangalore to Kochi could go a long way in rejuvenating industries in southern India, supplying them cheaper and cleaner fuel at half the earlier costs. KKBMPL is a cross-country RLNG (Re-gasified Natural Gas) project of 16-MMSCD capacity. Being executed by the Gas Authority of India (GAIL), it would cover 938 km, traversing Kerala (510 km), Tamil Nadu (310 km), and Karnataka (70 km).
Work on the KKBMPL Phase-II project — estimated to cost Rs 2,915 cr — connecting Kochi to Bengaluru and Koottanad to Mangalore started in January, 2012. However, it had to be stopped in November, 2013 owing to violent protests in Kerala, as also Tamil Nadu’s issues with its alignment. The project was almost at a standstill until the present dispensation in Kerala adopted a tough stand, resuming land acquisition in September, 2016.
The construction of the entire 438-km pipeline from Kochi to Mangalore would be over by December, says Tony Mathew, general manager (construction), GAIL. While work on the Koottanad-Walayar stretch extending up to the Tamil Nadu border and the Bengaluru-Krishnagiri stretch in Karnataka would take a year, there is some uncertainty regarding the timeline for the Tamil Nadu section owing to issues that have arisen in the state.
“The commissioning of the Kochi-Koottanad (in Thrissur) stretch spanning 91 km would allow industries in the Mala region to tap uninterrupted supply of natural gas,” says Mathew. Industries using LPG as feedstock could save up to Rs 85,000/day by shifting to the cleaner CNG, he points out.
“The tender for smaller pipelines connecting industries along the commissioned pipeline will be taken up soon,” Mathew adds. The pipeline-laying work has been challenging, given that almost 70% of the pipeline length passed through wetland, he says.
Sanjay Kumar Kar, head, Department of Management Studies, Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology, says “the commissioning of the pipeline would fast-forward the growth of city gas distribution (CGD) network in Ernakulum and Thrissur.”Further, it would boost utilisation of the LNG terminal in Kochi which has been languishing on account of low demand.
“Effective use of LNG regasification terminals requires pipeline connectivity to demand centres. Lack of pipeline connectivity to Bengaluru, Mangalore, Palakkad, Coimbatore, and Kozhikode saw the average capacity utilisation of the Kochi LNG terminal remaining as low as 5.67% during 2016-17,” he points out.