Middle Eastern oil giants eye Indian refineries

ARAB and Iranian petroleum giants want to acquire stakes in Indian refineries - either through acquiring equity in existing plants or being involved in green fields projects.

India’s Business Standard reports that Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), Saudi Aramco and National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) have started talking with several Indian oil companies, including Hindustan Petroleum Corporation ltd (HPCL) and Essar Oil.

Saudi Aramco, KPC and NIOC have begun talks with HPCL for acquiring equity in the government-owned company's 9 million-tonne Guru Gobind Singh Refinery at Bhatinda in the Punjab. They are also talking to private company Essar that is setting up a 10.5 million tonne refinery at Vadinar in Jamnagar, Gujarat.

HPCL chairman and managing director MB Lai confirmed HPCL was talking to the Gulf trio about them taking 26% equity in the Guru Gobind Singh refinery, with 48% equity being offered to the public.

An un-named senior executive at Essar Oil said the Middle East three were also holding talks with Essar regarding taking equity in its proposed refinery.

India imports over 70% of its crude oil requirement, though its refining capacity is higher than its domestic petroleum consumption. It has about 125.97 million tonnes of refining capacity but consumes only about 110 million tonnes of petroleum products with the surplus exported.