GAIL suspends cargo operations at Dabhol

A ship carrying maiden or the so-called commissioning cargo, which will be used to prepare the site for commercial operations, had to move to high seas after the fenders lining the jetty got damaged, sources privy to the development said

New Delhi: State-run gas utility GAIL India has suspended cargo operations at the nation’s third liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Dabhol after rough sea damaged marine fenders at the port, reports PTI.

A ship carrying maiden or the so-called commissioning cargo, which will be used to prepare the site for commercial operations, had to move to high seas after the fenders lining the jetty got damaged, sources privy to the development said.

The LNG carrier, called Excelerate, at the end of March brought a cargo from Statoil ASA Snohvit LNG plant in the Barents Sea off Norway.

It had offloaded barely 5%-10% of the cargo when operations had to be suspended last week and the vessel shifted to anchor, they said.

Fenders, which are bumper used to absorb the kinetic energy of a berthing boat or vessel against the jetty, are being repaired.

Sources said the repair work may be completed in next couple of days after which the LNG vessel would again be brought to the jetty for offloading.

GAIL owns 31.52% stake in Ratnagiri Gas and Power Co—the firm that owns the 1967 MW power plant and adjacent 5 million tonnes a year LNG import terminal at Dabhol in Maharashtra. The power plant and LNG terminal were built by now bankrupt US energy major Enron Corp about a decade back.

There have been apprehensions about the safety of the plant since it had been shut for so long and GAIL is taking all precautions in commissioning the terminal. The pipelines, storage tanks and other system are one-by-one tested by lowering temperature to minus 160 degrees Celsius.

LNG is natural gas that has been liquefied at minus 160 degrees Celsius for ease of transportation in ships. Once received, LNG is re-converted into its gaseous state and transported through pipelines to users like power plants.

 Sources said the Belgian ship brought the commissioning cargo of 138,000 cubic metres around 25 March 2012 and was to start offloading from 28 March 2012.

However, the offloading was delayed as the shallow navigation channel to the port kept the ship away from the jetty for almost three weeks.

Ratnagiri Gas and Power Co (RGPPL) took over Dabhol in 2005 after the Enron’s bankruptcy. The LNG terminal was 70%-80% complete when RGPPL took over the plant.

 GAIL mechanically completed the plant in late 2010 and dredging work of the sea-channel leading to the Dabhol port was completed last year.

 But since construction of breakwater facility is not yet complete, the terminal will be commissioned through smaller ships thereby leading to only 30%-40% capacity utilisation.

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TDSAT reserves judgement on telcos’ 3G roaming pacts

Telecom firms had requested in-chamber hearing as they were fearing leakage of details and cost inputs of their respective Intra-Circle Roaming (ICR) agreements

New Delhi:  Telecom tribunal TDSAT has reserved judgement over the plea of cellular operators challenging the government's directive to stop intra-circle roaming on their 3G networks, reports PTI.

The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) bench, headed by its chairman justice SB Sinha, concluded hearing on the plea of the operators around 10 days back.

From the third week of March, TDSAT had started in-chamber proceedings on the matter, at the request of the operators.

Telecom firms had requested in-chamber hearing as they were fearing leakage of details and cost inputs of their respective Intra-Circle Roaming (ICR) agreements.

The tribunal was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by the operators—Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Aircel and Tata Tele—challenging the 23rd December directions of the Department of Telecom (DoT) to scrap the pacts within 24 hours.

In an interim order on 24 December 2011, TDSAT had asked DoT not to take any coercive action against the operators till further orders for their 3G roaming pacts.

Earlier, the operators had handed over the copies of their ICR to DoT on the direction of the TDSAT.

On 16 February 2012 the tribunal had asked them to explain as to how they would compensate the government if they lose the case.

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Finance ministry hits back, says Vodafone was aware of tax liability

Vodafone described the comments of finance secretary RS Gujral in this connection as ‘untrue’

New Delhi: The Indian finance ministry hit back at Vodafone’s claim that it was not told of the tax liability on the Hutchison deal, saying that the British telecom giant was provided a copy of the notice, reports PTI.

“We have provided copies of the letter (about tax liability) to the concerned parties,” Hutchison Essar, which was later taken over by Vodafone, had said in its communication to the tax department on 5 April 2007, a finance ministry official pointed out.
Vodafone in a statement had claimed that it had never received any communication from authorities to withhold tax while making payment to the Hutchison and described the comments of finance secretary RS Gujral in this connection as ‘untrue’.

The Income Tax (I-T) Department had in March 2007 advised the Vodafone to withhold tax while making payments to Hutchison to acquire its stake in Hutchison Essar in the $11.2 billion deal. The deal happened in May 2007, well after the tax demand was raised in March 2007, the official said.

“The payer (Vodafone group) as well as payee (Hutchison Telegroup) can make application to the Assessing Officer under section 195(2) and 197 of Income Tax Act 1961 for dealing the exact tax liability resulting from above mentioned (acquisition) transaction,” said the letter sent by I-T Department on 23 March 2007.

 It’s a matter of record, the official said, adding that “since Vodafone was a UK-based company, we sent letter/notice to Hutchison Essar for dealing with the exact tax liability and Hutchison Essar provided the letter to concern parties.Hutchison Essar had acknowledged this.”

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