The downstream regulator is planning to waive a key condition for city gas distributors — of signing natural gas purchase pacts within 180 days from the award of licence — in response to companies’ reluctance to go for such deals amid a global supply glut that has led to a sharp decline in prices and amplified volatility, said people aware of the matter. The idea behind mandating licensees to compulsorily tie up supplies was to ensure security of supply and smooth services.
But the US shale revolution and construction of several gas export facilities worldwide over the past few years have made supplies plentiful and cheaper, prompting Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) to revisit this condition.
“Forcing them to tie up gas for five years at the beginning of the licence period won’t be in the commercial interest of city gas licence holders. They should have flexibility in sourcing gas,” said a person familiar with PNGRB’s plans.
The removal of such restriction will enable city gas distributors to better respond to market situations and serve consumers better, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The proposed move would help several companies that won licences in the ninth and tenth rounds of city gas auction held in the past two years.
Indian Oil, BPCL, HPCL, Adani, Torrent and AG&P were the biggest winners in the last two rounds in which 136 licences, covering nearly half of India’s population, were awarded.