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BPCL divestment completely off the table, says Hardeep Singh Puri

Says OMCs can consider pump price cut if global prices stay at $75-80 per barrel

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri  | Photo: PTI

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri | Photo: PTI

Subhayan Chakraborty

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BPCL is a high revenue-earning public-sector undertaking (PSU) and plans to privatise it are completely off the table, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday after assuming charge of the ministry for the second time.

“Why would we divest ourselves of highly successful Maharatnas like BPCL,” Puri said, arguing the Centre was not in favour of divesting its stake in oil PSUs.

The government owns 52.98 per cent in the oil major. Its plans to divest had been scuttled due to an insufficient number of bids from potential buyers.

BPCL is also in advanced stages of setting up greenfield refineries, Puri said, without giving further details. Meanwhile, IOCL is building an additional 9 million tonnes refinery unit alongside its existing CPCL-run refinery in Chennai's Nagapattinam at a cost of Rs 33,023 crore.

Puri said ONGC would soon commence gas production from its flagship deep-water project in the KG-DWN-98/2 block of the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin, off the coast of Kakinada. Oil production from the block will rise to 45,000 barrels per day soon as well, he said.

“From the Western Offshore, ONGC has floated a tender to get an international technical partner. All international oil and gas majors having an annual revenue above $75 billion have been invited to participate,” he said.

The minister said oil-marketing companies (OMCs) can consider reducing pump prices if international crude oil prices remain relatively low, at $75 or $80 per barrel.

He stressed that petrol and diesel need to be brought within the purview of the GST regime going forward. Last week, the petroleum secretary had said the ministry was cautiously optimistic of this happening in the current year.

Big projects in the pipeline

The minister said expanding India's footprint in the green hydrogen and biofuel sectors would remain key goals. “Many of our oil majors are in the process of issuance of tenders to supply green hydrogen. We are the first country in the world to employ green hydrogen busses, 15 of which have begun plying,” he said.

IOCL will soon install a 10 kilo tonne per annum (KTA) green hydrogen refinery plant in Panipat, alongside Mathura (5 KTA), and Paradip refinery (10 KTA), the minister announced.

The first 10 Mw green hydrogen plant was inaugurated by GAIL in Madhya Pradesh in May. The gas major is also planning a cracker unit for petrochemicals, Puri said. He argued that oil PSUs have done well and have made a collective 159,000 crore profit after tax.

Meanwhile, exploration and production for crude oil would remain another focus area, Puri said. “Rounds IX and X under the Open Acreage Licensing Policy will commence in the next few weeks," he said.

In January, the Centre had opened the ninth round of bidding, with 28 blocks with an area of approximately 136,000 square km, being on offer. Five companies -- ONGC, Vedanta, Oil India, Sun Petrochemicals, and Reliance-BP Exploration (Alpha) -- put in 13 bids for the 10 blocks on offer in OALP-VIII, according to the DGH.

Puri speak:

ONGC to begin gas production from key Krishna Godavari block, oil production to hit 45,000 b/d

The state-run firm has released tender seeking international technical partner in western offshore

IOCL to soon install green H2 plants in Panipat, Mathura & Panipat

Round IX & X of OALP to commence in few weeks

Petrol and diesel should be brought under the purview of the GST regime

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First Published: Jun 11 2024 | 9:15 PM IST

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