Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday laid the foundation stone for the Integrated Refinery Expansion Project of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), here.
Following is the text of the Prime Minister´s remarks at the foundation stone laying ceremony:
"I am very happy to participate in today's function which marks the beginning of the project for the integrated expansion of the Kochi refinery, another landmark in the development of industrial growth in Kerala. The Kochi Refinery was dedicated to the nation by our beloved former Prime Minister Shrimati Indira Gandhi in 1966. Ever since then, it has maintained an excellent record of performance but I venture to think the best is yet to come. I compliment the Bharat Petroleum Corporation and the Refinery for this outstanding track record. I am sure that this project will build further on the Refinery's excellent achievements so far.
I understand that on the completion of this project, the refining capacity at Kochi will increase from 9.5 to 15.5 million metric ton per annum. The project will contribute to our efforts towards energy security by enhancing the supply of valuable petroleum fuels such as kerosene, LPG, petrol and diesel. It will also see the modernization of the Kochi Refinery and will make it capable of producing auto-fuels compliant with Bharat Stage 4 and 5 specifications.
This expansion project, which involves an investment of Rs. 20,000 crore by Bharat Petroleum Corporation will also have many multiplier effects for Kerala's economy. I am happy to know that the Kerala Government plans to bring downstream ancillary industries to the nearby areas. This would further boost the local economy and provide additional employment and income opportunities to the citizens of this beautiful state of Kerala.
The Kochi Refinery Expansion Project will be world class both in technology and in the scale of its operations. This is in line with our objective of establishing world class manufacturing units as Kerala and India develops and gets integrated with the global economy.
Our UPA government at the Centre has always strived for the accelerated development and progress of your beautiful State. We wish to see Kerala live up to its immense potential. During the last eight years we have initiated a number of projects which will benefit Kerala in its quest for rapid economic and industrial growth. This expansion project, the recently completed Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal, the Ezhimala Indian Naval Academy and Brahmos Aerospace Thiruvananthpuram Limited are only a few of the many examples of such initiatives by the Government of India.
I would also like to mention in passing what I had said during the Emerging Kerala 2012 event in this very city a few months back. We need to leverage Kerala's unique strengths to attract new investments to the State. A high level of social development, a very high quality of human resources and the commitment of the State government under Shri Oommen Chandy's directions to provide a clean, transparent and efficient administration are only some of the strengths of Kerala. I would urge the State government and all other stakeholders to make all possible efforts to achieve this end.
To achieve our target of rapid industrial and economic growth we need adequate supplies of energy at affordable prices. Oil and gas will continue to meet a very large part of our energy requirements for many years to come. As you all know we remain dependent on imports for meeting a major portion of our crude oil requirements. It is for this reason that we will require large scale investments in the field of exploration for oil and gas within the country, acquisition of oil and gas producing assets overseas and strengthening of the marketing and distribution infrastructure in our own country.
The Government of India remains committed to encouraging companies to undertake domestic exploration for oil and gas. Our public sector companies are also looking at opportunities abroad. I am happy to know that Bharat Petroleum has made some significant successes in the upstream exploration and production sector, particularly in Mozambique and Brazil.
It should be a matter of satisfaction for all of us that with a refining capacity of 215 million metric tonnes per annum, India today is not only self-sufficient in meeting the demand of petroleum products, but is also making substantial exports. During 2011-12, we exported 60.8 million metric tons of petroleum products worth Rs. 2,85,000 crore, resulting in petroleum products becoming our single largest merchandise export.
I am also very happy to know that the oil industry has undertaken the massive task of upgrading the quality of auto fuels in the country with an investment of over Rs.30,000 crore from internally generated resources. Bharat Stage 4 petroleum and diesel has already been introduced in 26 cities. In recognition of the need for progressively moving towards better and better quality fuel, this exercise will be extended in a phased manner to cover another 37 cities by 2015.
While speaking at the National Development Council Meeting at New Delhi on Dec 27, I made a few remarks about the pricing of energy in our country which I would like to reiterate today. Energy remains underpriced in our country, with coal, petroleum products and natural gas prices well below international prices. To meet our target of rapid, inclusive and sustainable development we must undertake a phased rationalization of energy prices to bring them in line with global prices. The Central and the State government must work together to create awareness in the public on the need for curbing energy subsidies.
Let me end by wishing this expansion project all success. I also wish all of you peace and prosperity in the New Year."