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India ONGC douses fire, gas supplies to industries hit

India|Business|: New Delhi/Ahmedabad: A fire at an Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) plant caused by a pipeline rupture has cut gas supplies to customers including power and fertiliser companies, said a person familiar with the matter at gas marketing firm GAIL (India) Ltd. The fire broke out on Thursday morning at ONGC’s Hazira gas processing plant in western Gujarat state and has since been extinguished, ONGC said, adding that it is working to resume normal operations. See more Photos: India's opposition parties stage nationwide protest against new farm bills News in pictures: Duterte hailed, husband sells land to buy wife elephant in India, China on US, Australia whales death, Brazil COVID cases, Navalny discharged… COVID-19: Taj Mahal reopens even as India coronavirus cases soar Indian couple run street-side classes for poor students There were no casualties, ONGC said. GAIL, India’s biggest gas marketing firm, supplies the bulk of gas produced at ONGC’s western offshore fields to customers in the states of Gujarat, Goa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The Hazira plant also gets gas from western offshore fields. It supplies about 60 million standard cubic metres of gas daily to these customers. ONGC has shut its Hazira plant, which produces liquefied petroleum gas and other products such as naphtha. “We have cut gas supplies by 40% to our customers. We have notified some customers and are in the process of sending notices to others,” the GAIL employee said. The person, however, said gas supplies could improve from Friday as ONGC is in process of fixing the pipeline. India’s biggest utility NTPC Ltd has shut its two gas-based power plants in Gujarat state, while fertiliser maker KRIBHCO has reduced capacity use, people at the two companies said. “Our capacity utilisation fell to 50% in the morning due to gas supply disruption,” a person at the KRIBHCO said. Gas from other suppliers Jadish Prasad Verma, general manger for production at KRIBHCO’s Hazira plant, said his company is trying to arrange gas from other local suppliers after an output cut. NTPC has shut its 656 megawatt gas-based power plant at Kawas near Hazira and a 657 megawatt Jhanor-Gandhar plant due to gas supply disruption, a person at the company said. Gas supplies to customers have temporarily closed due to safety reasons, an ONGC spokesman said. “There could be some impact on our production... We are investing the cause of fire, and extent of damage.” NTPC and GAIL did not respond to Reuters emails seeking comments. Surat Collector and District Magistrate Dhaval Patel, a senior city official, told Reuters the fire was caused by a rupture in a pipeline at the gas terminal. ONGC’s plant is in Surat, a city in Gujarat. “The area was cordoned off, depressurised and cooled as part of firefighting measures,” Patel said. “Other plants in the vicinity are operating as usual. I am told that the ONGC plant will also become partially operational in two to three hours,” he said. Surat Municipal Commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani said the fire was in the 36-inch Uran-Mumbai gas pipeline.

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India's telecom giants go 'over-the-top' in their latest offers

Business|Technology|: Mumbai: India's telecom price war is back, and this time the battle is being fought with freebies. After announcing the first tariff increase in three years in 2019, telecom carriers are offering incentives such as subscriptions to services from Netflix to Amazon Prime to win customers in a content-hungry market. With theaters in India, among the biggest film markets globally by number of tickets sold, closed due to pandemic restrictions, the demand for entertainment content has shifted online. Several big-budget local films have been released on streaming platforms this year. See More 9 Indian actors who made their mark in Hollywood All the Emmy’s biggest surprises: Hazmat suits, Friends reunions and more Find out the unusual story behind Netflix’s ‘Enola Holmes’ Winners list in key categories for the virtual Emmys 2020 On Tuesday, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., the country's biggest telecom company by subscribers, launched a new 399 rupees ($5.4) plan for users who opt for monthly billing instead of pay-as-you-go packs. Besides 75 GB of data, customers would get access to Netflix on a mobile device and one-year subscription to two over-the-top apps and access to Jio's movie and songs library. "Reliance Jio's new postpaid plans offer more content and come at 20 per cent discount" to Bharti Airtel, analysts at Jefferies India Pvt. said in a report. Bharti's comparable entry-level plan is priced at 499 rupees and offers the same amount of data but doesn't include access to Disney+ Hotstar and Netflix, while Vodafone Idea Ltd.'s plan offers 40GB data and doesn't include any of the three online platforms, according to analysts. Over the past four years, the number of users opting for monthly billing of mobile services has come down sharply and such users now form about 5 per cent of the total 1.14 billion subscribers and generate 15 per cent of the sector's revenue, according to Jefferies analysts. Although Jio introduced its postpaid plans in 2018, the company's offerings didn't see much traction, showcasing 'stickiness' of this base of customers, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. "This time extremely aggressive content offerings could be the key attraction for consumers," Emkay Global Financial Services Ltd. analysts said. They expect Bharti and Vodafone Idea to follow Jio with similar tie-ups with OTT platforms to retain the monthly bill paying customers whose average monthly spending is higher than the prepaid users.