State-owned oil refiner Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and a joint venture of billionaire Gautam Adani's gas arm and Total of France - Adani Total Gas Ltd - have bid for the maximum number of licenses to retail CNG to automobiles and piped cooking gas for households in the latest city gas bidding round.
Indian Oil bid for 53 out of 61 geographical areas that received bids in the 11th city gas licensing round which closed on December 15, according to bid details made public by the sector regulator - Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB).
Adani Total Gas Ltd bid for 52 geographical areas. Adani group had originally ventured into the city gas business in a joint venture with Indian Oil but it later tied up with Total. Adani and Indian Oil did not put any combined bid in the latest bidding round.
PNGRB had bid out 65 GAs including Jammu, Nagpur, Pathankot and Madurai in the latest licensing round. Four geographical areas in Chhattisgarh did not receive a single bid.
I Squared Capital-backed Think Gas Distribution Pvt Ltd was the third largest bidder as it put in offers for 44 areas. Privatization-bound Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) put in bids for 43 geographical areas while GAIL Gas Ltd - the city gas arm of state gas utility GAIL India Ltd - bid for 30 areas.
Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) bid for 37 geographical areas and Torrent Gas for 28. Indraprastha Gas Ltd - the firm that retails CNG in the national capital and adjoining areas, bid for 15, Gujarat Gas for 14 and Assam Gas for 10 geographical areas
The GA made up of Baloda Bazar, Gariyaband, and Raipur districts in Chhattisgarh were the most sought-after license with 16 bidders in fray. Nagpur received 15 bids while Jammu got 13 bids.
Last week, the sector regulator had stated that as much as Rs 80,000 crore investment is being seen in setting up city gas infrastructure in the 61 GAs.
The 65 geographical areas offered in the 11th bid round are spread over 215 districts in 19 states and one Union territory covering 26 per cent of the country's population and 33 per cent of its area.
Presently, there are 228 geographical areas authorised by PNGRB in 27 states and UTs covering approximately 53 per cent of the country's geographical area and 70 per cent of its population.
In the last city gas distribution (CGD) bidding round - the 10th CGD bidding round, 50 areas were authorised for the development of CGD network. In the present round, 215 districts clubbed into 65 GAs are being offered. Bids were received for 61 areas, according to PNGRB.
During 2018 and 2019, PNGRB gave out licenses to retail CNG to automobiles and piped cooking gas to household kitchens in 136 geographical areas. This extended the coverage of the city gas network to 406 districts and around 70 per cent of the country's population.
The push for city gas expansion is part of the government's plan for raising the share of natural gas in the country's energy basket to 15 per cent by 2030 from the current 6.3 per cent.