Hindustan Petroleum Corp's (HPCL) Bathinda plant should start operating at full capacity by Sept 2011, the state-run company said on Friday, adding to India's surplus refining capacity.
"Crude cutting will begin in March 2011. It will take 3-4 months to get full products. By September it should start operating at 100 percent capacity," said HPCL's head S. Roy Choudhury, speaking to reporters.
The 180,000 barrels per day (bpd) north Indian refinery, being built by HPCL Mittal Energy Ltd -- a joint venture between HPCL and billionaire Lakshmi Mittal's Mittal Energy -- will be mechanically complete by May next year, HPCL said in a statement. This compares with March, the date earlier given by the company.
State-run refiners want to expand refining capacity to meet growing local oil-products demand and earn revenue from exports.
HPCL's rival Reliance Industries exports out of its Jamnagar refining complex, which is the world's largest.
HPCL operates a 130,000 bpd refinery at Mumbai and a 166,000 bpd facility at Visakhapatnam.
Due to the shutdown of the units at the two refineries, HPCL has not been importing crude through spot tenders in the last four months at least.
"Because of the shutdown we were not using our term volumes. Now we have increased our intake of term crude. We may float a tender this month for crude for January," said K. Murli, head of refineries.
HPCL will not bid aggressively in the latest Indian exploration licence round, however, it will look for partnerships, Choudhury added.
"We will not be very aggressive. We are talking to ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corp) and Oil India for bidding," he said.
He also said the company will import 240,000 tonnes of petrol in the year ending in March 2011, out of which 130,000 tonnes has already been imported.
HPCL's head of finance B. Mukherjee said that the company plans to raise $200 million via external commercial borrowings this fiscal year.
"We are still working out the details of ECB. We are talking to several bankers," Mukherjee said.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Alison Birrane)