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Dabhol: a challenge

Meena Menon

Centre negotiating with five countries, including Qatar, for gas supply for project


  • At present there is enough fuel to run the plant up to June end
  • The target is to produce 640 MW by May 15
  • Instead of naphtha, authorities are using high-speed diesel

    MUMBAI: Although restarted with fanfare on May 1, the former Enron-owned Dabhol power plant is still to sort out the problem of getting a continuous supply of fuel for long term-operations.

    According to Chandan Roy, CEO of Ratnagiri Gas and Power Private Limited (RGPPL), the renamed and revived plant, there is enough fuel to run the plant till June-end. But after that there is no guarantee of where the fuel will come from.

    Petroleum Minister Murli Deora told The Hindu: "Last month, we requested Qatar to provide liquefied natural gas for running the Dabhol plant. We are still making efforts to get it."

    According to reports, the Government is negotiating with five countries, including Qatar, for gas for the power project. But as of now there is no arrangement in place.

    The 2,184-MW plant at Dabhol in Ratnagiri district, which was closed down in 2001 in the wake of differences over power price, has been revived through a special purpose vehicle comprising Gas Authority of India Limited and the National Thermal Power Corporation. But reviving the defunct plant is proving a challenge even as a crisis-ridden Maharashtra awaits additional power from it.

    Phase I of the Dabhol plant, with an installed capacity of 740 MW, began functioning at 8 a.m. on April 30. It was supposed to use the 34,000 tonnes of naphtha stored at the plant site. Instead, RGPPL authorities are using high-speed diesel to restart the plant.

    Says Mr. Roy: "It is going to be a while before we can use naphtha. We will switch over to naphtha at an appropriate time. Naphtha is a highly explosive fuel.

    The plant is not in the best of condition and a lot of surprises may be in store. It is not like setting up a brand new plant where you know the pitfalls."

    Since the plant began functioning, it has faced many hitches and it will take a while to stabilise the operations. However, Mr. Roy says, things are running on schedule and the target is to produce 640 MW by May 15. Initially, it was averaging only 20-30 MW but the production has increased steadily to around 200 MW.

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