Petronet LNG Ltd, the nation's biggest liquefied natural gas buyer, today reported over 57 per cent drop in December quarter net profit as its newly commissioned plant at Kochi drained finances in absence of a pipeline to take gas to consumers.
Net profit in October-December fell to Rs 136 crore from Rs 319 crore in the same period a year ago, Petronet Managing Director and CEO Ashok K Balyan told reporters here.
The 5 million tonnes a year Kochi LNG import terminal operated at just 5.2 per cent of capacity as state-owned gas utility GAIL has not laid a pipeline connecting the plant to consumers.
"The decrease in net profit is primarily due to higher depreciation and interest charges pertaining to Kochi LNG terminal," he said.
Petronet Director (Finance) R K Garg said interest payment on debt and depreciation cost for Kochi was Rs 104 crore in third quarter (October-December), which couldn't be capitalised in absence of volumes being generated from the terminal.
Annually interest and depreciation cost would be Rs 400 crore, he said.
Balyan said gas sendout or sale from Kochi will rise only after the Kochi-Koottanad-Bangalore-Mangalore pipeline, which is held up due to right of way issues, is commissioned.
Petronet currently sells imported gas to consumers around the terminal as only 43-44-km of the planned pipeline is ready, he said.
Sales rose 11 per cent to Rs 9,382 crore as rupee depreciation against US dollar and higher price of LNG imported negated a fall in capacity utilisation of the firm's main Dahej import facility to 95 per cent of the installed capacity of 10 million tonnes a year.
Balyan said the Dahej terminal will be expanded to 15 million tonnes by end 2016 and Petronet has awarded the contract to build two storage tanks to IHI of Japan and the contract for the plant that re-converts the liquid gas into its gaseous state to Toyo Engineering of Japan.
Petronet will build a third terminal at Gangavaram in Andhra Pradesh by 2017, he said.
Shares of the company closed nearly 5 per cent higher at Rs 109.90 apiece on the BSE.