India’s state-owned gas utility GAIL is set to start work on a Rupees 100 billion ($1.66 billion) pipeline project that will connect the eastern part of the country to the main gas grid, the company said Sunday. The Jagdishpur-Phulpur-Haldia gas pipeline will be 2,050 km (1,271 miles) long, consisting of a 922-km main line and 1,128-km spur and feeder lines. The pipeline, which will have a capacity of 16 million cu m/d (565,000 Mcf/d) in the first phase, will serve as an « energy highway » to carry gas to the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, GAIL said. The utility added that it plans to double capacity of the pipeline to 32 million cu m/d in the second phase. GAIL did not give any timeline for the project. The pipeline will lead to the setting up of city gas networks in 17 major cities of the region and will make piped natural gas for households and compressed natural gas for vehicles easily available. Besides city gas distribution, the pipeline will supply feedstock/fuel to fertilizer and power plants, refineries and major industries located in the region, GAIL said. GAIL has already started activities related to a detailed survey of the pipeline route, and actual construction activities will commence once the survey is completed, it said. It is estimated that the project will have 46 river crossings, 17 railway crossings, 14 state highway crossings and 12 national highway crossings, thus making it one of the most difficult engineering projects of its kind, the company added.