Domestic gas prices may rise again as govt explores floor price mechanism

Agencies
September 28, 2020

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New Delhi, Sept 28: CNG and piped natural gas prices could face an increase this festive season if the government implements a new floor price mechanism for gas produced from domestic fields by companies such as Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

Sources said the petroleum ministry is considering a proposal under which domestic gas will have a floor pricing that would prevent fuel prices from crashing below an identified threshold in the current subdued market conditions and insulate oil and gas explorers like ONGC from a tariff crash.

Talks are on to link gas prices with price Japan-Korea Marker, a benchmark index used to determine LNG tariff in North Asia with a discount.

With JKM prices hovering over $ 5 million British thermal units (mmBtu) even with day $ 1 mmBtu discount, the Indian gas floor price under this formula will be close to $ 4 mmBtu. This is much higher than the government administered price of $ 2.39 mmBtu for the April-October, 2020 period. And if implemented, it could increase the cost for all gas consumers.

"Nothing has been finalised on having a gas floor price as of now. A panel in the petroleum ministry is looking at various options and the best course would be adopted that has little impact on consumers but also supports oil and gas companies with remunerative and sustainable gas prices."

The average cost of gas production for the country's largest public sector oil company ONGC is about $3.7/mmBtu, much higher than the current regulated price of natural gas at $2.39/mmBtu. This is expected to fall further to about $1.9/mmBtu for the next six months beginning October 1 under the current formula, sources said.

Lower gas prices is bad news for ONGC as it would mean further suppressed margins and losses. The company is set to lose close to Rs 6,000 crore on low gas prices this year, brokerages have said.

Brokerages have put ONGC's FY22E gas price at US$3.6-4.2/mmbtu depending on discount to JKM price if the new floor price is implemented. With Low L NG liquefaction capacity addition ahead, JKM spot futures for FY22-FY26E are expected at US$5.2-5.8/mmbtu vs US$4.7-4.1/mmbtu in FY20-FY21E.

Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan had said earlier that India will phase out price controls in natural gas and make it market-linked soon.

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News Network
October 21,2020

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Bengaluru, Oct 21: Recoveries at 8,500 were more than 6,297 new Covid cases registered for the second consecutive day in Karnataka.

"With 8,500 discharged from across the state on Monday, recoveries have gone up to 6,62,329 till date, while Covid tally rose to 7,76,901 with 6,297 fresh cases and 1,03,945 active cases so far," said the state health bulletin on Tuesday.

The death toll rose to 10,608, with 66 succumbing to the infection in the last 24 hours across the state.

As the epi-centre of the pandemic, Bengaluru registered 2,821 new cases, taking its Covid tally to 3,12,842, including 64,523 active cases, while 2,798 discharges in the last 24 hours rose the recovery rate for the city to 2,44,740.

With 36 deaths due to the virus in the city, the toll rose to 3,578 so far.

Of the 941 patients in the intensive care units (ICUs) across the state, 380 are in Bengaluru hospitals, 67 in Ballari and Dharwad, 45 in Chamarajanagara, 44 in Hassan, 29 in Kolar, 27 in Shivamogga and 20 in Kalaburagi.

Out of 98,236 tests, 23,373 were through the rapid antigen detection and 74,863 from RT-PCR method across the southern state.

"Positivity rate in the state is 6.4 per cent, while case fatality rate is at 1.4 per cent," added the bulletin.

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Agencies
October 21,2020

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Bikaner, Oct 21: Researchers have found the evidence of a "lost" river that ran through the central Thar Desert, near Bikaner, as early as 172 thousand years ago, and may have been a life-line to human populations enabling them to inhabit the region.

The findings, published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, represent the oldest directly dated phase of river activity at Nal Quarry in the central Thar Desert.

The study by researchers from The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, Anna University in Tamil Nadu, and IISER Kolkata indicates that Stone Age populations lived in a distinctly different Thar Desert landscape than we encounter today.

This evidence indicates a river flowed with phases of activity dating to approximately up to 172 thousand years ago, nearby to Bikaner, Rajasthan, which is over 200 kilometres away from the nearest modern river.

These findings predate evidence for activity in modern river courses across the Thar Desert as well as dried up course of the Ghaggar-Hakra River, the researchers said.

The presence of a river running through the central Thar Desert would have offered a life-line to Paleolithic populations, and potentially an important corridor for migrations, they said.

The researchers noted that the potential importance of 'lost' rivers for earlier inhabitants of the Thar Desert have been overlooked.

"The Thar Desert has a rich prehistory, and we've been uncovering a wide range of evidence showing how Stone Age populations not only survived but thrived in these semi-arid landscapes," said Jimbob Blinkhorn from The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

"We know how important rivers can be to living in this region, but we have little detail on what river systems were like during key periods of prehistory," Blinkhorn said.

Studies of satellite imagery have shown a dense network of river channels crossing the Thar Desert, according to the researchers.

"These studies can indicate where rivers and streams have flowed in the past, but they can't tell us when," explained Professor Hema Achyuthan of Anna University.

"To demonstrate how old such channels are, we had to find evidence on the ground for river activity in the middle of the desert," Achyuthan said.

The team studied a deep deposit of river sands and gravels, which had been exposed by quarrying activity near the village of Nal.

The researchers were able to document different phases of river activity by studying the different deposits.

"We immediately saw evidence for a substantial and very active river system from the bottom of the fluvial deposits, which gradually decreased in power through time," Achyuthan said.

The researchers used a method called luminescence dating to understand when quartz grains in the river sands were buried.

The results indicated that the strongest river activity at Nal occurred at approximately 172 and 140 thousand years ago, at a time when the monsoon was much weaker than today in the region.

River activity continued at the site between 95 to 78 thousand years ago, after which only limited evidence for the presence of a river at the site, with evidence for a brief reactivation of the channel 26 thousand years ago, the study found.

The river was flowing at its strongest during a phase of weak monsoonal activity in the region, and may have been a life-line to human populations enabling them to inhabit the Thar Desert, the researchers said.

The timeframe over which this river was active also overlaps with significant changes in human behaviour in the region, which have been linked with the earliest expansions of Homo sapiens from Africa into India, they said.

"This river flowed at a critical timeframe for understanding human evolution in the Thar Desert, across South Asia and beyond," said Blinkhorn.

"This suggests a landscape in which the earliest members of our own species, Homo sapiens, first encountered the monsoons and crossed the Thar Desert may have been very different to the landscape we can see today," he added.

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News Network
October 12,2020

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Bengaluru, Oct 12: India generated 18,006 tonnes of Covid-19 biomedical waste in the last four months, with Maharashtra contributing the maximum (3,587 tonnes) to it, according to a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.

Around 5,500 tonnes of Covid-19 waste was generated across the country in September - the maximum for a month so far.

According to the data received from state pollution control boards, since June, all states and Union Territories have generated 18,006 tonnes of Covid-19-related biomedical waste which is being collected, treated and disposed of by 198 common biomedical waste treatment facilities (CBWTFs).

Covid-19 biomedical waste could include PPE kits, masks, shoe covers, gloves, human tissues, items contaminated with blood, body fluids like dressings, plaster casts, cotton swabs, beddings contaminated with blood or body fluid, blood bags, needles, syringes etc.

According to the data, Maharashtra generated 3,587 tonnes of Covid-19 waste in four months since June, followed by Tamil Nadu (1,737 tonnes), Gujarat (1,638 tonnes), Kerala (1,516 tonnes), Uttar Pradesh (1,432 tonnes), Delhi (1,400 tonnes), Karnataka (1,380 tonnes) and West Bengal (1,000 tonnes).

Around 5,490 tonnes of such waste was generated in September, with Gujarat contributing the maximum 622 tonnes, followed by Tamil Nadu (543 tonnes), Maharashtra (524 tonnes), Uttar Pradesh (507 tonnes) and Kerala (494 tonnes).

Delhi generated 382 tonnes of Covid-19 bio-medical waste in September, according to the CPCB data.

Around 5,240 tonnes of Covid-19 waste was generated in August, of which 1,359 tonnes was in Maharashtra, and 588 tonnes each in Kerala and Karnataka.

In July, the country generated 4,253 tonnes of Covid-19 waste, with Maharashtra (1,180), Karnataka (540) and Tamil Nadu (401) being the top three contributors.

India generated 3,025 tonnes of Covid-19 waste in June, with Maharashtra alone accounting for 524 tonnes, followed by Gujarat (350 tonnes), Delhi (333 tonnes) and Tamil Nadu (312 tonnes)

The CPCB had in March issued specific guidelines for handling, treatment and disposal of such waste at healthcare facilities, quarantine centres, homes, sample collection centers, laboratories, pollution control boards, urban local bodies and common biomedical waste treatment facilities (CBMWTFs).

The apex pollution body had in May developed the “COVID19BWM” mobile application to monitor coronavirus-related biomedical waste and to compile the data through an electronic manifest system.

This application tracks Covid-19 waste at the time of generation, collection and disposal.

The Supreme Court has made it mandatory for all urban local bodies and state pollution control boards to use the mobile application for tracking biomedical waste daily in a bid to ensure that the waste is collected, transported and sent to the registered CBMWTFs.

The directions came on July 30 on recommendations made in a report by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.

As on Monday, India's Covid-19 caseload stands at 71.2 lakhs while the death toll is 1.09 lakh.

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