GUWAHATI, Oct 17 - The Oil India Limited (OIL) can increase its stake in the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) to prevent the refinery from going into the hands of a private company. This is the view of the experts in oil industry, who are opposed to the idea of handing over profitable NRL to a private company.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, experts in the oil industry, who are not keen to be named, said that in recent years, the OIL has been spending huge amounts in foreign countries including Russia, Mozambique etc and is getting very little in return. Most of the ventures turned out to be bad investments for the OIL and the company lost huge amounts of money from such foreign investments. In most cases, the OIL was forced to make such investments abroad due to pressure from the Government of India.
Oil industry experts are of the view that instead of spending such substantial amounts of money in investments abroad, the OIL can increase its stake in the NRL to prevent the refinery from going into the hands of private parties. At present, the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) has 61.65 per cent stake in the NRL, while, the OIL and the Assam Government have 26 per cent and 12.35 per cent stakes respectively. The move of the Government of India to go for disinvestment of the BPCL will automatically give control over the NRL to a private party. In such a scenario, oil industry experts are of the view that it should not be difficult for the OIL to increase its stake in the NRL to 51 per cent to prevent privatization of the NRL.
According to experts, the OIL would have to spend around Rs one thousand crore to increase its stake in the NRL to 51 per cent and it should not be difficult for the company, which has been spending substantial amounts in non profitable ventures abroad, to do so.
Oil industry experts also pointed out that even if the OIL manages to acquire majority stake in the NRL, the present management should be allowed to run the refinery. The NRL is being run "very professionally" since its inception by a team of competent persons and they should be allowed to run the refinery in the days to come, industry experts opined.
Industry experts also pointed out that the Government of India has been taking contradictory stand with regard to the future of the NRL. On one hand, the Government has announced that the capacity of the NRL would be increased to nine million tones per annum with substantial investment, while, on the other hand, it is planning to disinvest the BPCL, which holds the majority stake of the NRL, which would give control of the refinery to a private party.