New Delhi: State-owned oil and gas explorer Oil India Ltd (OIL) may take over Bharat Petroleum Corporation's entire 61 per cent stake in Numaligarh Refinery, retaining the public sector character of the Assam-based entity.
Privatisation of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), which currently has majority holding in Numaligarh Refinery, has become a hot political issue in the North-East with voices being raised not to disturb the PSU character of the refinery.
NRL was set up as per Assam accord of 1985. All Assam Students Union, which is one of the signatory of Accord, has already protested changes in NRL.
BPCL currently holds 61.65 per cent stake in the NRL while OIL has 26 per cent stake. The Assam government has 12.35 per cent stake in the refinery.
"OIL best fits the bill to take over NRL due to the synergy arising from their operations largely located in the North-East and its existing investment in NRL. Being the largest shareholder, the government is likely to get OIL board to approve the takeover," an official source privy to the development said.
Though estimates for the acquisition of NRL would be finalized post demerger of the refinery from BPCL as per the cabinet decision, it is expected that OIL may have to invest between Rs 3,000-4,000 crore to pick up BPCL's stake in the refinery.
Sources said that though consolidation among oil sector PSUs has been put on hold as on now, an integrated OIL-NRL operations could later be considered for merger with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to create a large integrated oil and gas company on the line of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) that acquired HPCL last year.
For OIL, the acquisition of NRL will immediately add 3 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of refining capacity to its portfolio. NRL also has approved plan to expand its capacity (NRL) to 9 mtpa with an investment of Rs 22,000 crore.
NRL recorded highest-ever revenue at Rs 18,511 crore in 2018-19, registering a growth of 16.25 per cent. Its earnings per share (EPS) stood at Rs 27.79 while net worth reached Rs 5,551 crore.
For OIL, the acquisition will give opportunity to enter into lucrative fuel refining operations with possible entry into retailing at a later stage. With both companies having operations in the North East, lot of synergies is expected to flow out of the proposed deal.
Oil India Limited OIL has over 1 lakh sq km of areas for its exploration and production activities, most of it in the Indian North East, which accounts for its entire crude oil production and majority of gas production. Rajasthan is the other producing area of OIL, contributing 10 per cent of its total gas production.
Additionally, OIL's exploration activities are spread over onshore areas of Ganga Valley and Mahanadi. OIL also has participating interest in NELP exploration blocks in Mahanadi Offshore, Mumbai Deepwater, Krishna Godavari Deepwater as well as various overseas projects in Libya, Gabon, USA, Nigeria and Sudan.
OIL shares rose 0.49 per cent to Rs 154.65 a piece on BSE at closed of market hours on Monday.
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