News in brief

India can’t write off coal-based energy so soon: World Coal Association

Reacting to a report citing India will need no coal-based power plant after 2025, the World Coal Association (WCA) said it is not credible to suggest that the country can achieve universal energy access and develop its economy without coal in the next 10 years, regardless of the country’s investment in renewables.

WCA chief executive officer Benjamin Sporton said, “India’s energy needs are too huge for any suggestion that it will not need coal in the future.

WCA said for a country like India, it’s not a choice between coal and renewables – both are needed and both will play a big role. Renewables have an important role to play but coal will remain the driving force behind electrification and industrialisation and according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), coal will continue to make the largest contribution to electricity generation in India through to 2040.

Teams to check cyber security threat in power sector

The government has constituted Computer Emergency Response Teams to check cyber security threat in the power sector.

"Government of India, in line with National Cyber Security Policy, 2013 has created sectoral Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) to mitigate cyber security threat in power systems," Power Minister Piyush Goyal said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha. The Centre has taken several steps to inform power utilities and key stakeholders to take precautions against cyber threats.

"For cyber security in power systems, four sectoral CERTS, CERT (Transmission), CERT (Thermal), CERT (hydro) and CERT (Distribution) have also been formed to coordinate with power utilities," the minister said.

The relevant stakeholders of Smart Grid have been advised to identify critical infrastructure and use end-to-end encryption for data security.

GDF looks to cash in on Petronet stake

Global and domestic energy majors are likely to line up for France's GDF International's 10 per cent stake in gas importer Petronet LNG as they look to profit from a spike in the country's gas demand.

GDF, a unit of $75-billion energy giant Engie SA, has written to Petronet, India's biggest importer of liquefied natural gas, expressing its desire to exit the company.

It has offered the stake to Petronet's principal promoters - GAIL India Ltd, ONGC, Indian Oil Corp and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd, all of whom are PSUs. At current market price, GDF's stake is valued at Rs 2,900 crore.

"We have been informed by GDF International, which is holding 10 per cent equity share capital in the company, that they proposed to divest their entire shareholding in the company," Petronet said in a regulatory filing.

The shareholder agreement of Petronet gives the right of first refusal to GDF's stake to the Indian promoters. GDF, therefore, has to offer its holding to other founders and only if they refuse, the stake can be sold to other.

The Narendra-Modi government has targeted to raise the share of gas in the energy basket to 15 per cent in another five years from 6.5 per cent, but still below the global average of 24 per cent. The Indian promoters hold 12.5 per cent stake each in Petronet, entitling each of them to buy 2.5 per cent from GDF. But it is unlikely that they will exercise the option as Petronet has been structured as a private company.

If any of the promoters pick up their share from GDF, the combined shareholding of the PSUs will cross 50 per cent, and Petronet itself will turn into a PSU.

SAIL may post net loss of `4,211 cr in FY’18: Par panel

A Parliamentary panel said state-owned SAIL may post a net loss of Rs 4,211 in the next fiscal and asked the company to make sincere efforts to restore its “dwindling fortune” to “past glory”.

“However, the Committee note that for the year 2017-18, income of SAIL is targetted at Rs 64,155 crore but still, SAIL is likely to post a net loss of Rs 4,211 crore during 2017-18,” Standing Committee on Coal and Steel said in its latest report tabled in Parliament.

It noted with distress that income of SAIL has declined steadily during the last three years on account of sluggish market conditions. The income of the company which was Rs 53,470 crore in 2014-15 declined to Rs 43,934 crore in 2015-16 and to Rs 22,292 crore during 2016-17 (up to September, 2016).

“The Committee observe that net sales of the company at Rs 31,330 crore are up by 14.9 per cent,” the report said. As regards physical performance parameters, the committee expressed its satisfaction at 16 per cent growth in saleable steel production at 10.2 MT, 14.7 per cent in value added production at 4.3 MT and 16 per cent growth in saleable steel sales at 9.7 MT, it said.

“The Committee while appreciating these positive trends in physical and financial performance of SAIL, desire that earnest efforts be continued to bring back the dwindling fortunes of the company to its past glory,” it said.

Average realisation of coal e-auction declines in 2016-17

The average realisation from electronic auction of coal has registered a decline in the ongoing fiscal. “During the current financial year, average realisation from e-auction of coal has dipped,” Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. The figure for the first quarter of 2016-17 had come down to Rs 1,570 per tonne compared to Rs 2,184 a year ago, Goyal said.

Bid prices are mainly determined by market forces, the minister said, adding that the available quantity of coal and demand of fossil fuel in the economy are the factors in question.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had earlier approved allocation of coal linkages for non-regulated sector only through the auction route to ensure transparency. Prior to the Cabinet’s approval, the Standing Linkage Committee would decide on allocation of long-term and short-term linkages.

Coal-based power generation rises 6% to 674 BU in Apr-Dec

The coal-based power generation increased by six per cent to 674.4 billion units (BU) during the April-December period of the ongoing fiscal, Parliament was informed. “During the period of April to December 2016, the coal-based power generation grew by 6.18 per cent to 674.492 BU as compared to the same period in the previous year,” Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.

The dispatch of coal by state-owned CIL to power sector in October last year was at 31.91 million tonnes (MT) as against 34.50 MT during the same month in 2015, the minister said. “Keeping this in view, the decline can be attributed primarily to regulated lifting by power plants which preferred to consume from their stocks apart from heavy rains in coalfields in August, 2016 and September, 2016,” the minister said.

No FDI in defence, ports, coal in Apr-Dec period: Govt

As many as five sectors including defence, ports and coal have failed to attract any foreign direct investments during the April-December period of the current fiscal, Parliament was informed on Monday. The other two segments which were not able to attract the foreign inflows are photographic raw film & paper and coir, according to the data shared by Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a written reply to the Lok Sabha. Barring defence industries, the other four sectors had not received any FDI in 2015-16 either. Last year, the government relaxed FDI norms in several sectors including defence. India imports 70 per cent of its military hardware from different countries. As per the current policy, foreign investment beyond 49 per cent has been permitted in the defence sector through the approval route in cases resulting in access to modern technology in the country or for other reasons.

Castrol and Romax Technology set up joint venture

Castrol, one of the world’s leading lubricant brands, has announced the creation of a joint venture with Romax Technology’s InSight business, a pioneer in predictive maintenance solutions.

With over 30 years’ experience working in the wind sector, this deal will combine Castrol’s global reach and knowledge of wind turbine lubrication with RomaxInSight’s expertise in predictive maintenance, software and data analytics for wind turbines.

The lubrication and maintenance of a wind turbine’s expensive gearbox is critical to optimising its performance and reliability. RomaxInSight is a rapidly growing predictive maintenance provider, designing software and engineering services which monitor the condition of wind turbines, and predict breakdowns – potentially resulting in a saving for its customers by up to 30 per cent in maintenance costs.

Mandhir Singh, COO, BP Lubricants, said: “We’re incredibly excited about the potential this joint venture will create, both for the new business and also our existing customers. By working together, I believe we will create a powerful, faster-growing business in the wind sector and beyond.”

Over the past two years, Castrol has supported the development of a number of digital solutions which complement its core lubricants business, including GreenSteam, a data analytics company specialising in fuel saving solutions for the marine industry; Castrol OPTIS, a technology company providing leading edge machine and operational efficiency solutions to the manufacturing industry; and Castrol Carama a digital market place that connects consumers seeking car service and repair to trusted workshops,

Andy Poon, Romax Technology CEO, added: “We’re always looking at ways to drive innovation at Romax. The aim of RomaxInSight is to combine our deep understanding of design and operation of wind turbines with advanced data analytics to provide practical solutions that reduce operations and maintenance costs. We are delighted to find in Castrol a partner who shares this vision and can provide a platform for growth. We look forward to working closely alongside them to take InSight to the next level.”

Govt may divert coal from thermal plants to steel industry: Goyal

The government is examining a proposal to divert high grade domestic coal from thermal power plants to meet the needs of the steel industry for coking coal.

Speaking at the sidelines of the International Conference on NexGen Technologies for Mining and Fuel Industries here, Minister of State for Power, Coal, Mines and Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal said, “There are certain grades of coal which if washed can be upgraded to coking coal. So, Secretary Coal has been advised to work with the coal companies. We are trying to get an additional 20 million tonnes of coking coal in the country within the next 3-4 years for the domestic steel industry.”

Explaining the rationale for diverting coal from the thermal power plants to the steel sector, Goyal said, “There is a lot of coking grade coal going to power plants, which is not fully suitable. So power cost also becomes expensive and we have to import coking coal. But if we wash this, this can be used as a substitute for coking coal and the power plant will be given some other cheaper coal.”

Goyal also said that the planned 4,000-MW Pudimadaka thermal power plant in Andhra Pradesh will now be running on domestic coal.

He said, “The plant was planned on imported coal will now be given a mine of a coal linkage of appropriate quality.” However, he said that the government will keep looking only for good coking coal assets overseas for Coal India.

Goyal also said that Bharat Gold Mines Ltd has been asked to sell scrap assets to raise money to revive operations.

Seema Gupta Is New ED Of Powergrid (NR-I)

Seema Gupta has taken over as Executive Director of POWERGRID, Northern Region-1. Before this, she was heading the Corporate Monitoring Group and Cost Engineering Department of POWERGRID.

Earlier, she was the Chief Operating Officer of Central Transmission Utility & Cost Engineering Departments and was responsible for the development of an efficient, coordinated and economical system of Inter-State Transmission Lines.

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