Piped gas round the corner

Piped gas round the corner

The City Gas Distribution (CGD) network is ready for 34,000 Piped Natural Gas (PNG) connections.

Piped gas round the corner

Triggering a decisive shift away from LPG cylinders, Piped Natural Gas (PNG) is spreading its City Gas Distribution (CGD) network far, wide and deep into the city. But are Bengalureans ready to take the plunge, setting aside their apprehensions to opt for a system billed as far safer than cylinders?

The gas is already being supplied to 3,000 houses, and GAIL Gas informs that the infrastructure is ready for another 34,000 connections. Meters have been installed in 23,000 houses. If given the go-ahead, piped gas will directly reach the kitchens within a year.

Safety concerns

Yet, the buzz is missing. Many, long used to the risks with cylinders, are not entirely convinced that gas in the pipeline will be safer. Dispelling these fears, a GAIL Gas spokesperson explains that unlike LPG, PNG is lighter than air and thus rises and disperses in the air when leaked.

“There is absolutely no chance of a blast. The pressure, well regulated within the CGD, is as low as 200 millibar when it reaches the kitchen,” she elaborates.

Since LPG is heavier than air, it settles down when leaked. “There is a general mindset about LPG being not a safe fuel. When people think about gas, they think only about LPG. This will change,” notes the spokesperson.

More convenient

The message is clear: The 3,000 households now connected to the network will vouch for PNG’s safety and convenience. Convenient, because the worrisome wait for the cylinder every month is finally over.
So is the prospect of missed deliveries if the house is locked or the owner is away on vacation. The smart meter does the job.

The connected households are spread across BEL Layout, HSR Layout, Bellandur, Singasandra and Dollars Colony. The pipeline infrastructure is now ready for parts of Mangammanapalya, HBR Layout, Jalahalli, Malleswaram, Yeshwantpur, Nagawara and Thanisandra. Also covered are parts of HAL, although the work will take a few more months for completion.

GAIL Gas has targeted to ensure uninterrupted PNG supply to 1.32 lakh households by 2020. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) had authorised GAIL to complete the CGD network for Bengaluru. Supply had begun in parts two years ago.

Connection costs

So, how much does a PNG connection cost? Registration can be done for Rs 5,800, for which GAIL is soon introducing a flexi-payment option. If the pipeline network has reached a particular area, regular supply could take up to three months. But if the neighbourdhood is already connected, the supply can begin within 15-20 days.

Smart billing

Billed through smart meters, PNG is currently priced at Rs. 22.10/Standard Cubic Metre (SCM). Bill is generated remotely. A mobile app launched recently by GAIL Gas allows customers to view and pay their bills, besides providing information on the benefits of PNG, Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and location of CNG stations.

A PNG consumer for the last six months, Kishan Nuthakki from Brigade Gateway in Yeshwantpur is convinced that piped gas is what Bengaluru needs in abundance. “This is absolutely safe since the gas is supplied at a hundred times lower pressure than LPG. The process is as simple as turning on and off a water tap,” he says.

The first in his apartment complex to adopt PNG, Kishan is happy for another reason: No more paying that extra to the cylinder delivery man, no more cylinder scratches on the floor, and no more waiting. His bill, generated every two months, works out to about Rs 450/month. A typical LPG cylinder is priced at about Rs 600.

While the spread of PNG depends entirely on domestic, commercial and industrial consumers, GAIL has a problem with its CNG expansion plans. It did open a CNG station in Laggere, but the number of vehicles retro-fitted with CNG kits has remained low. This is despite four vendors being approved for retro-fitment.

The issue is also with the geographical reach of stations. To widen its network, GAIL has now inked agreements with Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited.

These deals will eventually allow GAIL to have its own CNG dispensers at petroleum bunks.

The city has only about 200 vehicles running on CNG, including a few autorickshaws, cars and bikes. At the Laggere station, CNG is offered at Rs 44.90/kg, much cheaper than petrol. But unless BMTC invests big time on CNG buses, this eco-friendly fuel might not get the push it so badly needs.

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