India spends big on infrastructure

May 16, 2017

Indian state-controlled refiners are planning to spend 200bn rupees ($3.1bn) on LPG infrastructure by 2020, as government policies to expand use of the fuel lead to continuing sharp rises in demand. The huge Rs200bn figure covers new and existing investment plans in LPG pipelines, import terminals, bottling plants and storage depots. Refiners IOC, BPCL and HPCL are boosting infrastructure as existing facilities prove inadequate to meet new demand for the cooking fuel. The past 12 months have already seen various announcements on giant pipeline projects to move LPG from coastal import facilities across the country. Pipelines are the most efficient way to ship LPG in India, given the poor state of the country’s road network and the lack of capacity on its rail system.

Some of this investment will go towards building further import facilities — and much-needed bottling plants. State-controlled Engineers India is inviting bids for a refrigerated pipeline system for BPCL’s Haldia LPG import facility in West Bengal, while BPCL is seeking to build plants to create a further 100,000 LPG cylinders a year, each with capacity of 14.2kg.

The investments already announced include Rs10bn on a 2,650km pipeline with at least 6mn t/yr of capacity running from Kandla in the western state of Gujarat to Gorakhpur in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state. The project will include spur lines in Gujarat, from Pipavav to Ahmedabad and Dahej to Koyali.

IOC and BPCL are also planning to commission a 498km LPG pipeline in south India by April next year to boost supplies in Kerala and Tamil Nadu states. And IOC will commission by February a Rs30bn LPG import terminal and pipeline linking to BPCL’s 190,000 b/d Kochi refinery, a bottling plant and BPCL’s planned bulk LPG terminal in Palakkad.

Apace with demand Indian oil companies are boosting infrastructure to keep pace with record demand and support LPG imports, which supply 45pc of consumption at present. State- controlled oil companies added a record 32.5mn new LPG connections to house- holds in the financial year that ended on 31 March. This included 20mn connections under a subsidised LPG cylinder issue programme that was launched in May last year. National LPG coverage was 72.8pc as of 1 April with 198.8mn active consumers, Indian oil ministry data show. This compares with 56pc coverage in April 2015 with 140mn connections.

India’s LPG imports reached a record high in March as domestic production was unable to meet the rise in demand. India imported 1.23mn t of LPG in March, up by 64pc compared with a year earlier and 23pc higher than in February. The country’s LPG consumption climbed to 1.9mn t in March, up by 4.4pc compared with February and just below a record 2mn t in January.

Beijing defends sovereignty at sea
By ZHAO LEI in Singapore 

Foreign Ministry says US, Japan out of line in comments about Nansha Islands

China strongly opposes irresponsible remarks concerning China made by the defense ministers of the United States and Japan at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Hua Chunying said in a news release published on the ministry's website that China has indisputable sovereignty of the Nansha Islands and its surrounding waters and has been consistently seeking to peacefully resolve disputes through negotiations and discussions.

She reiterated that China strongly opposes some nations' flexing their military muscles and threatening and challenging China's sovereignty and the safety in the South China Sea under the guise of freedom of navigation and flight. The spokeswoman also said it is China's genuine and lawful right to deploy necessary defense facilities on its own islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

Hua urged some "nations outside the region" to stop making irresponsible remarks, to respect efforts at safeguarding the peace and stability in the South China Sea and to play a constructive role in this regard.

Her remarks were in response to a question on how China views the comments about China from US Defense Secretary James Mattis and Tomomi Inada, Japan's defense minister, at the Shangri-La Dialogue that concluded on Sunday afternoon.

Mattis and Inada accused China of disregarding "rules-based order" and creating tensions in their addresses made during the event.

This year's Shangri-La ¬Dialogue, also called the 16th Asia Security Summit and held by the London-based think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies, was attended by 22 ministerial-level delegates and 12 chiefs of defense departments, as well as senior military officials and academics from 39 countries and regions.

The People's Liberation Army delegation to the Shangri-La Dialogue also made clear the Chinese military's pursuit of common security and its commitment to peaceful means to address disputes in the Asia-Pacific region, PLA researchers attending the event said.

Zhou Bo, director of the security cooperation center under the Defense Ministry's Office for Inter¬national Military Cooperation, said on Sunday representatives from the PLA clearly and comprehensively explained China's stances toward issues concerning the East and South China seas and exposed some nations' real intentions.

"I told the audience to a special session that China made a national law to ensure the lawful use of waterways nearly 20 years ago and that some countries have been condemning China for compromising 'freedom of navigation' even as they themselves refuse to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," Zhou said.

Chinese delegates also reminded participants that despite the PLA's constantly improving capabilities in the past decades, it has never taken advantage of its strength to stir up trouble outside the country's borders, he added.

"Moreover, we updated the attendees on our efforts and achievements in building mutual trust as well as boosting communication and exchange," Zhou said.

Lieutenant General He Lei, vice-president of the PLA Academy of Military Science and head of the PLA delegation, told the audience on Saturday that China is always committed to resolving international disputes through peaceful negotiations and opposes to the use or threat of force.

He said China has always held that countries, big or small, are equal and issues should be settled through consultation on the basis of equality. On the South China Sea issue, China insists on peacefully resolving disputes through negotiation and consultation by countries directly involved. China will also work with ASEAN to uphold peace and stability in the region, He said.