PNGRB: City-gas Distribution entities behind on the Minimal Work Program

By Consultants Review Team Monday, 18 March 2024

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) reports that just 12 million cooking gas connections have been extended by city-gas distribution (CGD) organizations thus far, accounting for half of their total prorated pledges of 22 million connections.

In an emailed statement to Business Standard, PNGRB stated that this is the rationale for issuing letters to defaulting firms to complete their minimum work program (MWP) commitments and working to free up gas infrastructure for public use.

“The present progress of CGD entities is not in keeping with their commitments. Now, PNGRB is focusing on the rapid development of piped natural gas (PNG) connections. In this regard, it initiated PNG drives from January 26 to March 31,” the regulator said in response to questions regarding its recent decision not to extend infrastructure exclusivity to Mahanagar Gas and Vadodara Gas.

According to current regulations, MWPs are required by PNGRB and have techno-commercial viability. Aside from supplying a minimum number of PNG connections, CGD companies must cover all charge areas with pipelines during their marketing exclusivity periods.

If a CGD fails to meet its MWP targets, the regulator will take measures in accordance with the PNGRB Act and its implementing regulations.  

“PNGRB is mandated to ensure equitable distribution of natural gas across the country. To fulfill its statutory duty, the regulatory body has authorized the whole of India (mainland) for the development of CGD networks. After the awarding of authorisation, the prime function of PNGRB is to monitor the progress committed by CGD entities,” the statement added.

Ambitious plans

According to sources, PNGRB has been stringent in enforcing the MWPs to maintain the pace of connection development and to expedite the construction of on-ground infrastructure.

Last year, the ministry informed Parliament that permitted firms must supply 125 million PNG connections by 2030, both in rural and urban regions, by MWP targets.

Expanding statewide CGD coverage is part of the government's goal of increasing India's natural gas share in its energy basket to 15% by 2030, up from 6.8% today.

As a result, PNGRB has authorized up to 300 geographical areas (GAs) covering approximately 98% of the population and 88% of the total GA of the country, spread across approximately 630 districts in 28 states and Union Territories, including rural areas, by May 31, 2023, according to Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas data. This increased from 2.54 million connections across 66 districts in 2013-14.

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