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ONGC douses fire; gas supplies to industries hit

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By Nidhi Verma and Sumit Khanna

NEW DELHI/AHMEDABAD (Reuters) - 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, gas marketing firm GAIL (India) Ltd said on Thursday.

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 there were no casualties.

The plant, which produces liquefied petroleum gas and other products such as naphtha, has been closed but ONGC said it is working to resume normal operations.

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.

It supplies about 60 million standard cubic metres of gas daily to these customers.

In a statement, GAIL said ONGC had shut off the supply of 30 million standard cubic metres a day (mmscmd) of gas to GAIL's north-western pipeline network to contain any further damage.

"Supply cuts of up to 40% against current allocations have been imposed on downstream customers," it said, adding that supplies to households had not been disrupted and the pipeline grid, which supports about 80 mmscmd of gas, had not been damaged.

India's biggest utility NTPC Ltd 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.

Capacity utilisation at fertiliser maker KRIBHCO fell to 50% and Jadish Prasad Verma, general manger for production at the company's Hazira plant, said they were trying to secure gas from other local suppliers.

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 investigating the cause of fire, and extent of damage."

NTPC 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.

Surat Municipal Commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani said the fire was in the 36-inch Uran-Mumbai gas pipeline.

(Reporting by Nidhi Verma in New Delhi and Summit Khanna in Ahmedabad; Additional reporting by Florence Tan; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Christopher Cushing and Kirsten Donovan)

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