Kochi LNG terminal is the second mega project being developed by Petronet LNG Limited for importing gas. P.P. Basistha recently visited the site to take stock of the construction component involved in the project.

Kochi LNG Terminal: A Mega Project in the Making

Located along the shore of Arabian Sea and surrounded by lush greenery, Puthuvypeen SEZ in Kochi is a truly visual treat for visitors. But more so, it is the buzzing activity of construction workers and large number of construction equipment that hook one's attention on the serene island, now converted into SEZ, as Petronet LNG Limited (PLL) is finalizing its second mega LNG receiving terminal at a cost of Rs. 3,700 crores, along with mega LPG storage terminal being set up by Indian Oil Corporation nearby.

Kochi LNG Terminal: A Mega Project in the Making
The decision taken by PLL to set up its second terminal in Kochi, the sole in South India was on the backdrop of providing gas supply to user industries in the rapidly industrializing south Indian states. Petronet's first receiving terminal is in Dahej, Gujarat. PLL is a consortium of Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL).

According to Mr. Pushp Khetarpal, Vice President (O&M) PLL, Kochi LNG Terminal, "Puthuvypeen Island was chosen to set up the second terminal, due to its location along the Arabian Sea having draft level of 14.5 metre with minimal tidal variations of 1m, suitable for berthing of the LNG carriers." The draft levels at the terminal's berthing jetty, are being further increased to 18.00 metres, by Afcons India Limited." Afcons, the marine contractors for the project, has signed a two-year capital dredging contract with PLL for maintaining the required draft levels at the berthing jetty. Cutter suction dredger is being used by Afcons for carrying out the dredging work.

The regasification and its allied civil works for the terminal are being done by CTCI of Taiwan, whereas the Civil contractors of the project are Simplex Infrastructures Limited and Marg.

The construction component of the project comprises jetties for vessel berthing, storage tanks and regasification facilities. Supporting infrastructure for operation of the terminal includes, jetty control room completely equipped with UPS, electric substation, radio office, and fire control office. Administrative offices and occupational health centers are the other supporting infrastructure for the terminal.

Kochi LNG Terminal: A Mega Project in the Making
The wide expanse of the terminal project can be gauged by its elaborate infrastructure in place. According to Mr. Kheterpal, "the terminal was initially planned for a throughput of 2.5 mmtpa. However, within the course of the project construction, PLL decided to raise its capacity to 5 mmtpa in view of projected high demand potential of LNG in south Indian markets, thereby extending the project completion year to 2013 from its earlier planned 2011. He further says, "based on future market requirement, the terminal has also been planned to handle higher LNG throughput upto 10 mmtpa facilitated by setting up a third storage tank, for which we have acquired sufficient land in advance."

Providing details of the project's infrastructure, Mr. Vikas Singh, Manager (Port operations) PLL, Kochi Terminal says, "there are two storage tanks No 101 & 102 of 155,000 KL capacity each, constructed by IHI of Japan through its own patented technology. Subcontractors for the tanks are India's Vijay Tanks and Vessels. The full containment (above ground) type tanks are constructed on piles wherein each tank has a diameter of 85 metres. The storage tanks of the terminal are linked with 700 metres, 38" pipeline made of SS 316 grade stainless steel from the jetty. The shore from the jetty is connected with an approach trestle of 310 metres." The cargo unloading jetty of the terminal is of 361.5 metres long. There are seven mooring dolphins and two tug berths. Four dolphins are located on the eastern (towards inner harbour) side and three on the Western (outer sea) side. There are five breasting dolphins equipped with super cone fenders to assist vessel berthing.

Kochi LNG Terminal: A Mega Project in the Making
Storage tanks are the vital infrastructure for the terminal. Made through pre-stressed concrete, the inner part of the tank has been given 9 percent nickel coating. There are two walls for the tanks wherein there is a gap of one meter between them. The gap is covered by 'perlite,' a substance prepared from volcanic ash, post heating attains physical character of glass wool. Tank walls are made of 800mm of concrete for insulating outer temperature. M-40 grade of concrete has been used for storage tanks, jetties and marine piles whereas M-30 grade of concrete has been used for office buildings, industrial sheds, and other utility buildings.

Numerous equipment are helping contractors to give shape to the mammoth project with cranes playing a major role. 350 ton crane with luffing boom arrangement and 80 tons crawler cranes have been used for the construction of storage tanks. According to Mr. Bishnudutta Panda, Deputy Manager, Civil, PLL, Kochi Terminal, "crawler cranes are being used for erection of operating platforms, steel pipes, pipe columns and insertion of pile columns. They are being supported by 8-12 tons pick-n-carry cranes, and are also being used to transport materials at the job site and hold pipes during welding." Tyre mounted cranes are also being used in the project along with 10-12 tons of tower cranes.

Precautions have been taken for safe operations of the cranes. Mr. Panda says, "all cranes working at our sites have been fully tested and certified by the third party. We have put in elaborate erection plans. Contractors operating the cranes provide erection permits to other contractors working in their close vicinity so that they can plan their working schedule." "Erection permits are important communi- cation tools between contractors at our crammed job sites where mechanical, electrical and civil works are being undertaken in order to avoid any mishaps."

Thrust on Project Management

Kochi LNG Terminal: A Mega Project in the Making
LNG Kochi terminal can be stated to be world-class infrastructure project given the fact that the project developer is putting in place all the required infrastructure facilities possessed by all modern LNG receiving terminals across the world. Infrastructure requirements for the project are being catered by globally acclaimed players, involved in setting up of LNG terminals worldwide. However, developing a mammoth project is not without its set of challenges, given the fact necessary coordination is required between the numerous contractors involved in the project based on their individual engineering expertise.

According to Mr. Panda, "coordination is required at the job site for job activities synchronization and thereby smooth and safe execution of the project and to prevent any cost and time overruns." "Coordination among the project developers and contractors are ensured through weekly interface meetings between PLL officials and contractors. Based on the meetings, minutes are recorded, which are then used for sequencing the project and classification of the job for the contractors. Classification and sequencing of the job is also done to prevent idling of equipment at the work site."

Kochi LNG Terminal: A Mega Project in the Making
He adds, "coordination among contractors is necessary as because the main construction component of the project is its wide network of pipelines linking the jetty to the storage tanks and regasification plant for its further transportation to the end users." Coordination with the subcontractors is taken care of by the main contractors, while PLL looks after coordination with main contractors." Petronet has appointed Whessoe Oil & Gas of UK as project management consultants. The PMC consultant is supervising design planning, construction supervision, project stage inspection apart from supervising foundation stage reinforcement.

Challenges

"Setting up elaborate and required infrastructure for the terminal has its set of challenges, especially to set up the storage tanks due to the character of soil in the entire project site which is marine clay with negligible load bearing capacity beyond 45 metres. The restriction was bypassed by deciding to set up the storage tanks on piles," says, Mr. Panda. Each storage tank is being supported from below with 600 piles. The entire project is supported by highest number of 3500 concrete piles.

Challenges countered by PLL to an extent is being subdued by logistical support to the project being offered by newly set up India's mega International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) near Puthuvypeen at Vallarpadam SEZ as it is helping PLL to get its expensive imported equipment required for the terminal. While Kochi Port is helping PLL to get over dimensional consignments for the construction of the terminal project.

However, all the issues being faced by the project developer, will be things of the past, post the project goes on stream during 2013 owing to its importance. The terminal will provide gas supply to National Thermal Power Corpo- ration's gas based power plant at Kayankulam in Kerala. Off take plan for the gas is being finalized by GAIL. There is also a proposal of setting up gas based power station jointly by PLL and the state government of Kerala on the port based SEZ which will supply power to the port based industries on the SEZ in future.

Gas supply will be provided to user industries in industrially progressing states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka through GAIL's pipeline network. GAIL is constructing five new pipeline projects covering a length of 5,500 kilometers across India.
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