GUWAHATI, Nov 11 - The Oil India Limited and the Assam government are keen on buying more stakes in the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL).
As uncertainty loomed over privatisation of NRL following the government�s intention of selling its stakes in the BPCL, official sources told The Assam Tribune that both the Oil India Limited and the State government have made their desire known to the Central government at �various platforms� and in the �highest level�.
The sources, however, refused to divulge the details of the meetings.
�The government is aware of our keenness. If the government wants this to happen, it will happen. The ball is in the Central government�s court. If it is bent on selling the stakes to private players, it is a different thing,� a source privy to the developments said.
An OIL official said the PSU would be happy to see a NRL-OIL merger. �In fact, this has been in circulation off and on since the last ten/twelve years. Our former CMD RK Dutta had envisioned it. Such mergers have happened, like the ONGC-HPCL one and given the resources of both the companies, we have lot of things to look up to in the next fifteen/twenty years,� the official said.
Many sections are worried that NRL falling into private hands may jeopardise its expansion plans. Earlier this year, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had cleared the expansion of NRL.
As per the CCEA decision the capacity of Numaligarh refinery will be increased from the current 3 million tonne per annum (MTPA) to 9 MTPA at an investment of Rs 22,594 crore. Of the total proposed investment, about Rs 15,000 crore would have been debt and the balance equity contribution from the stakeholders � BPCL, OIL and Assam government. A viability gap funding of Rs 1,020 crore would have been from the government.
The NRL expansion project also includes a 1,400-km-long crude oil pipeline from Paradip Port of Odisha to Numaligarh with a capacity of 9 MMTA � 6 MMTPA for NRL and 3 MMTPA for Bongaigaon and Guwahati refineries of Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOC). Already an MoU had been signed with the IOC for the same.
A product of the Assam Accord, Numaligarh refinery presently has around 880 employees and 90 per cent of them are from Assam.
Currently, the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited has 61.65 per cent stake in NRL, the Assam government has 12.35 per cent and the Oil India Limited 26 per cent.
As of March 31, BPCL reportedly has cash and cash equivalents of around Rs 5,300 crore, against its Rs 10,900 crore of debt maturing over the next 15 months. With the current share prices of BPCL in the market, the value of the government�s stake in BPCL is believed to be worth Rs 60,000 crore.
There have been indications that the government may consider two-phased disinvestment for public sector oil refiner and retailer BPCL, if the initial strategic sale of the entire 53.29 per cent government stake in the company fails to get requisite response.