Guwahati, May 27 The Assam government on Thursday handed over a cheque of Rs 500 crore to Oil India Limited (OIL) as a part of its enhanced 26 per cent share in the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL).
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, addressing a press conference here, said that the state government had decided to increase its stake in the NRL from 12.5 per cent to 26 percent in the budget proposals of 2020-21 and it's then assessed value was Rs 1,400 crore but this subsequently increased to Rs 2,150 crore. "The matter was, however, not simple and it was a tough call for the Union government to segregate NRL from Bharat Petrochemicals and hand over the refinery's stake to OIL", he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a decisive step to ensure that the NRL remains a stand-alone refinery with OIL and Assam government as a major stakeholder.
"The decision to enhance the share of Assam government in NRL was taken in March this year but by then the value of the 26 per cent share had increased to Rs 2,150 crore which we had to pay by March 31 and we did not have that much money", the Chief Minister said. Sarma said that as the then state Finance Minister, he had approached Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan with the problem, who had suggested that the state government pay a token amount while OIL will deposit the remaining amount with the Centre. "We had paid Rs 500 crore in March and Rs 500 crore today while the remaining Rs 1,150 crore will be cleared by September and the state government will now have 26 per cent share in NRL", he said.
Sarma said that NRL was a very important organisation for the state government as it was a refinery set up under the provisions of the Assam Accord and has an emotional connect with the people of the state. "The emotional connect is a factor but financial decisions cannot be taken on this basis alone. The enhancement of the state government's share is a very prudent business decision as well", Sarma said. He pointed out that with a share of 12.5 per cent, the state government received a dividend of Rs 335 crore and now with 26 per cent share, if there is no major upheaval in the market, a dividend of Rs 500 crore was expected.
"We expect to recover the investment made in the share along with the interest it would have earned within the next four to five years", he added. Besides, NRL has embarked on major capacity building projects with its current refining capacity of three Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) to be increased to nine MMT by 2024. "This will definitely lead to more earning for the state government as with 3 MMT, the state government is getting Rs 500 crore and with 9 MMT, it will definitely get much more", he said.
A pipeline is being set up at Paradip which will transport six MMT of crude to NRL, Bongaigaon and Guwahati Refineries where it will be refined and sold in Myanmar, Bangladesh and other states of the country, he said. NRL will also consume five lakh bamboo in its bio- refinery and will produce sustainable fuel by mixing ethanol and diesel, Sarma said. "All these projects will prove to be financially viable and will economically benefit the state government", he said.
Referring to OIL as the major stakeholder of the company, the chief minister said that the oil major may be a Central PSU but it is linked inextricably with the economic development of the state and the people of the state consider the company as its own. Besides NRL, OIL and the state government are engaged in several joint projects and these include the Assam Gas Company Limited, Duliajan-Numaligarh pipeline, Assam Petrochemicals and Purba Bharati-Indradhanush projects, he said.
OIL is also engaged in the Brahmaputra Gas Cracker and Polymer Limited which has earned a profit and the state government will get a dividend while it will also help in re- energising the Brahmaputra Valley Fertilizer Corporation Limited at Namrup. The state government will also have a 10 per cent stake in exploration at Namrup where OIL has got a bloc. "The more exploration OIL conducts in Assam, the PSU will make more investment and this will contribute to the economic development in the state", Sarma said. The Chief Minister claimed that a lot of positive developments are taking place in the state since 2014 and the economic developments will be visible in the next four to five years.
He also announced that OIL and NRL have donated Rs five lakh each while Assam Gas Company Limited and Assam Petrochemicals have donated Rs one lakh each to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund for the Vaccination Intensification Programme.