New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) State gas utility GAIL was conferred the Maharatna status by the government Friday.
An oil ministry statement here said Gas Authority of India Ltd. (GAIL) was the third company under the ministry and the youngest among all public sector units (PSU) to be given this recognition.
A Maharatna firm can take investment decisions up to Rs.50 billion without going to the government.
A company qualifying for the Maharatna status should have an average annual turnover of more than Rs.250 billion over the last three years.
The PSU must also have a net worth of over Rs.150 billion and net profit of more than Rs.50 billion in its last three years.
GAIL meets two parameters related to turnover and net worth. However, it meets the criteria for net profits only after taking into account the fuel subsidy it provides to oil marketing firms for cooking gas below cost.
The company's net profit in 2011-12 stood at Rs.36.53 billion. Its turnover was around Rs.410 billion and net worth stood at Rs.214.49 billion.
GAIL started in 1984 as a single pipeline project company and is now an integrated natural gas company with activities ranging from gas transportation and marketing to processing liquid hydrocarbons and polymers, gas sourcing including signing a liquefied natural gas re-gasification (R-LNG) deal with Cheniere, US, and being the first PSU to buy acreage in shale gas in the US.
GAIL has also entered into exploration and production. The company holds a participating interest in 31 oil and gas exploration blocks, including two blocks in Myanmar.
The ministry said GAIL has been recently also recognised as "Asia's number one gas utility and the world's number one downstream company".
The five other Maharatna companies are ONGC, Indian Oil, NTPC, Coal India and SAIL.
The government started the Maharatna scheme in 2009 with the aim of allowing more operational freedom to top performing PSUs.
--Indo-Asian News Service