India's gas monopoly GAIL, is set to restructure operations and become a pure infrastructure provider. It opened its Natural Gas Pipeline Open Access System governing the 11,400-kilometre pipeline network to private gas marketing companies. This strengthens the marketing business of the company, along with freer movement of gas.
Almost two-thirds of GAIL's capacity stays unutilised. With this move, private players can now import and sell gas to consumers using GAIL's infrastructure. Regulator PNGRB is already working out plans to unbundle the marketing and pipeline business in a phased manner. It is learnt, that GAIL plans to segregate the two businesses.
Meanwhile, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is pushing GAIL to concentrate on building pipeline infrastructure and sell off non-core businesses like petro-chemical complexes at an 'appropriate' time and price. State-owned oil marketing companies - Bharat Petroleum and Indian Oil - have already offered to buy stakes in the unbundled GAIL.
Anilesh S. Mahajan