Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the aim of the pipeline expansion will be to bring the North East region under the natural gas grid.

To begin with, the INR129.4bn ($2.03bn) Urja Ganga pipeline project will see an extension by another 750km up to Guwahati in the state of Assam and later on will be extended to all the state capitals of North East India.

The pipeline’s extension to Guwahati is expected to see an additional investment of INR37-40bn ($580-630m).

According to Pradhan, the pipeline network will enable better usage of gas deposits in Manipur, Silchar Valley and Arunachal Pradesh while also opening up more jobs in the North East, reported Business Standard.

In this connection, GAIL (India) is leading a consortium of state-controlled companies which have kick started the initial work on the pipeline project, also known as Jagdishpur-Haldia and Bokaro-Dhamra Pipeline (JHBDPL).

Other partners of the consortium are Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Hindustan Petroleum (HPCL) and Oil India. The consortium is expected to put across a proposal with the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board for the extension of the pipeline project.

The companies intend to form a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to create the natural gas pipeline network in the North East region.

Oil India chairman and managing director Utpal Bora has confirmed the plan of the five state-owned oil Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) to establish the SPV.

Bora was quoted ETEnergyWorld as saying: “That is a plan. I cannot get into the financing of it at this stage.

“The first meeting (on the proposal) has taken place and a formal announcement on this issue will be made soon.”

Launched in October 2016, the Urja Ganga project started with the intention of transporting gas through the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.