New Delhi, June 5 -- Rajasthan wants a oil refinery. So what if it is landlocked, so what if it would require special concessions from the Centre and states to make such a project financially viable. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot has been pushing for it, and with the blessings of the Prime Minister's Office, the state is finally set to get a 9-million-tonnes per annum refinery project.
The R20,000-crore plus refinery, originally conceived in 2004-05, will come up with joint participation of state-owned Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).
The exact equity participation is yet to be finalised, but a senior government official told HT that HPCL may pick up a 51% equity stake, ONGC 26% and Engineers India Ltd 5%, with the balance stock to be held by the state government.
"ONGC has informed the state government that its discussions over equity participation with HPCL are at final stage. ONGC intends to take 26% and HPCL 51%," he said.
A Rajasthan government official said "The state has already started the process of land acquisition of about 5,719 bigha (926 hectares) for the refinery."
Gehlot has already sought special exemptions from the finance ministry for the refinery, including exemption of the 50% excise duty for 5 years.
ONGC chairman and managing director Sudhir Vasudeva confirmed that discussions were on, repeated attempts and mails to HPCL's chairman and managing director S Roy Choudhury did not elicit any response.
Rajasthan has huge reserves of crude oil and natural gas, and produces about 175,000 barrels of crude per day from Mangla & Bhagyam fields of Cairn India.
Sources said it still remains to be seen if the project will see the light of day, or it is being pushed to woo voters ahead of state elections in 2013. "An announcement on paper is very different from the project coming up," a former petroleum secretary said. Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.
Copyright 2012 HT Media Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
(Originally published June 5, 2012, in The Hindustan Times.)