New Delhi: The un-bundling of state-owned natural gas utility GAIL (India) must happen for the country’s plan to set up a gas trading hub to achieve its desired purpose, Darshan Hiranandani , Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) of H-Energy , promoted by Mumbai-based realtor Hiranandani Group , has said. “Until the unbundling of GAIL happens, natural gas trading hub will not work. It will not take off. If the unbundling of GAIL happens, we will be among the first ones to participate in the hub,” Hiranandani told ETEnergyworld in an exclusive interview. Talking about the company’s capital expenditure plans, Hiranandani said H-Energy plans to spend around Rs 4,000 crore over the next 3-4 years in order to set-up pipeline infrastructure and two Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals on the Eastern coast. According to Hiranandani, the 4 Million Tonne Per Annum (MTPA) LNG terminal in Jaigarh, Maharashtra is ready and only a small stretch of 60-Km natural gas pipeline connecting the terminal to Dabhol-Bangalore natural gas pipeline is pending, which is expected to be completed by December 2019. On the Eastern side, H-LNG is setting up two terminals — a 3 MTPA terminal in Kukrahati in West Bengal and another 3 MTPA terminal in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh. The company expects both the terminals to be completed by mid-2022. “By creating assets near the demand centre we are bringing efficiency as this will avoid the need for a long pipeline to connect with the demand centres. As another focus area, we are going around the world — like our recent agreement with Russian company Novatek — to try and find cost efficient gas to bring to India,” Hiranandani said. He added the company is exploring various avenues of collaboration with Russia gas giant Novatek including setting up a joint gas marketing company, sourcing LNG from Novatek and investment opportunities in LNG terminals in Russia. “With Novatek we are focusing on three years — getting gas from Russia, looking at creating a joint marketing company to sell gas together, and participating in their projects, whether it is Arctic LNG-2 or terminals in other parts of Russia. Overall, we are looking at how we can participate together,” Hiranandani said. Commenting on the state of natural gas infrastructure in the country, Hiranandani said currently getting approval and financing for projects has become challenging. “There are more concerns and there is less infrastructure. At an overall level, the approval side is very challenging in the context of Right of Use etc. On the financing side, banks are not so keen on lending for infrastructure projects. So, things are challenging. But everybody in the gas industry is trying very hard to push for gas infrastructure,” Hiranandani said. Talking about adoption of LNG as a transportation fuel, Hiranandani said LNG retail infrastructure is growing at a very slow pace in the country which is discouraging transporters to adopt the fuel. “The whole issue rests on transporters. It is not the truck manufacturer but the truck operator who has to decide. The moment truck operators decide to go ahead with adopting the fuel, manufacturers will follow suit,” Hiranandani said, adding in the initial phase no transporter is going to use LNG without the presence of a robust retail infrastructure. “Even today, between the departments and the law there are roadblocks from various approval agencies. Once the infrastructure gets ready transporters will feel more comfortable,” Hiranandani said. He said the company has received approval from Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO) for setting up an LNG retail outlet at Panvel in Maharashtra and the firm is keen on expanding its presence in the space.