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Andhra Pradesh gas to sell 24% in LNG project to private power producers

HYDERABAD: Independent power producers, GMR, GVK and Lanco, have shown interest to buy stake in Andhra Pradesh government promoted re-gasified liquefied natural gas project.

AP Gas Distribution Corporation (APGDC), which is equally owned by 
AP Gas Infrastructure Corporation (APGIC) and GAIL Gas, is executing the LNG terminal project through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to ensure regular fuel supply to their gas-starved, idle plants. 

"APGIC and GAIL Gas together hold 50% in the SPV and the British firm GDF Suez LNG holds 26%, while the balance 24% will be sold to private investors with a cap of 7-8% each," a senior bureaucrat from the 
energy department told ET. "Apart from the independent power producers, few other gas consuming industrial entities have also shown interest to pick up minority stakes." 

After the divestment, the APGIC, a wholly-owned government entity, and Gail Gas will own about 50% of the SPV through their investment in the AP Gas Distribution Corporation - an equal joint venture - the British firm will have 26% and the rest by the new suitors. 

The corporation is proposing to set up a floating storage and re-gasification unit that will begin operations in September next year. It will be among the first such projects on the country's east coast and will have an initial capacity of 3.5 million metric tonne per annum (mmtpa) and end up with 5 mmtpa capacity as a landbased terminal after three-four years.

The APGDC had on Monday signed a deal with Kakinada Seaports for locating the terminal there. "The AP government has asked us to consider investing in the project. We will take a call soon," said KV Rao, chairman and managing director of Kakinada Seaports. 

The first phase of the project is expected to cost between Rs 1,500 crore and Rs 5,000 crore for the land-based LNG terminal, which will be funded through a 70:30 debt-equity. 

"While Rs 3,500 crore will be raised as institutional debt, Rs 1,500 crore of equity will be pumped in by all the investors together. APGDC will put in Rs 750 crore for 50% stake and GDF Suez will invest Rs 390 crore for 26% equity, while the balance Rs 360 crore will be mobilised from the private investors including IPPs," said the source. 

AP is currently facing a peak shortage of 2,000 mw and hopes the LNG terminal to address the gas shortages for power production. The IPPs have seen over 2,500 mw of capacity lying idle due to a disruption in gas supply from the Krishna-Godavari fields operated by
Reliance Industries. 

The gas-fired power projects in fuel troubles include GVK-I (220mw), Spectrum (220mw), Lanco-I (355mw), BSES (220mw), Konaseema (460mw), GVK Gautami (464mw), GVK-II (220mw) and the GMR group's Vemagiri (370mw). 

Senior officials of integrated power projetcs (IPPs) separately confirmed their interest in picking up minority stakes in the LNG venture but said a final call will be taken based on the cost savings. "We have Kondapalli 360mw operating at less than 50% plant load factor and the 366 mw of phase-II project is not operational for want of gas. Two units of 360mw each are under construction and fuel security through picking up stakes in LNG terminals will make us complete the projects early," said a senior Lanco official.