Italy's Snam eyes investments in Indian gas pipelines

Snam didn’t comment on whether it was considering investing in Indian gas pipelines.

New Delhi: Italy’s Snam, the operator of Europe’s largest natural gas transmission network, is eyeing investment opportunities in the Indian gas pipeline business and has roped in GAIL’s former chairman B C Tripathi as its adviser.

Snam top executives have held discussions with the oil minister, officials, regulator and industry executives in India to understand the investment opportunities and regulatory landscape, people familiar with the matter said. The discussions have ranged over several topics including hydrogen fuel, gas storage and small-scale liquefaction technologies but the big thrust has been on pursuing investment opportunities in the gas pipeline business, they said.

Snam didn’t comment on whether it was considering investing in Indian gas pipelines. “We look forward to opening soon our office in India to enhance the dialogue and cooperation with Indian partners that we have developed over the past couple of years,” Snam said in an emailed response to ET. “For the time being we decline to comment further on specific projects until there are concrete developments.”

Last month, Snam, in consortium with five international investment funds, acquired 49% stake in ADNOC Gas Pipelines in the UAE for $10.1 billion.

Niti Aayog last year proposed hiving off GAIL’s pipeline assets and monetizing it but encountered resistance from the company as well as the petroleum ministry. GAIL owns about 11,000 km of gas pipelines across the country and is currently planning to shift all its pipeline assets to a wholly-owned subsidiary.

Snam, which also operates in the UK, France, Austria, Greece and China, expects to leverage its deep knowledge of the gas sector to launch itself in India. “Regarding India, the significant push towards cleaner energy shift and in particular towards gas is what makes the country interesting for Snam. This will require infrastructures and also an integrated management of those infrastructures, which is where Snam has 80 years of history and proven track record,” the company said.

Snam can offer technology and equipment for compressed natural gas (CNG) refuelling stations, the company said. “Snam is also working on an innovative modular approach to liquefaction that would enable liquefaction of gas at very competitive costs to foster city gas distribution and to monetize local stranded gas reserves,” it said.

Some of India's small gas fields are unconnected to a pipeline, and a cheap liquefaction facility can help evacuate such gas.

India is seeking to expand the use of natural gas in transport and also setting up new LNG regasification terminals. The country has given away more than 100 city gas distribution licenses in the past three years to increase population’s access to CNG.




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