BPCL disinvestment off table, focus on oil & gas production, refinery, biofuels: Puri

Over the next two weeks, two rounds of auction of new oil and gas blocks are likely, said Puri
Alt="Hardeep Singh Puri"
BPCL disinvestment off table, focus on oil & gas production, refinery, biofuels: Puri

New Delhi: Hardeep Singh Puri, who took charge as the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas for a second time on Tuesday, said that his second term will focus on continuing the importance accorded by the Modi government on energy “availability, affordability and sustainability,” while prioritising increasing the domestic production of oil and gas, refinery expansion, petrochemicals, biofuels and green hydrogen.

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Govt focussed on increasing oil & gas production: Puri

Over the next two weeks, two rounds of auction of new oil and gas blocks are likely, said Puri. Referring to the recent tender floated by Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) for engaging a global technical service provider for enhancing output from its ageing Mumbai High field, the minister said that his ministry will be encouraging oil and gas companies to to float such unique tenders to collaborate with technical knowledge-providers to boost domestic production from mature fields.

Puri said oil production from ONGC’s eastern offshore KG-DWN-98/2 block will increase to 45,000 barrels per day “very soon” and gas production “will also start soon.”

Long-term oil deals with Russia?

On securing supplies of crude oil, which is refined into fuels like petrol and diesel, he said India has diversified its sources of supplies, including from Russia. From buying less than a percentage of its total imports, India emerged as the biggest buyer of Russian sea-borne oil, snapping up barrels sold at a discount as some Western nations halted purchases after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

“We are a longstanding partner of the Russian federation. We have had discussion with the Russians on long-term deals. I am confident that both our private and public sector players will sign long-term deals with countries where they see benefit in doing so,” said the minister.

Puri rules out BPCL disinvestment

Commenting on the ministry’s disinvestment plans, the minister ruled out any possibility of disinvesting Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL). “BPCL has made more money in the first 3 quarters than the stake sale amount,” he said. In FY2021-22, the government had plans to disinvest BPCL, however, the plan was aborted when no suitable bidders were found. BPCL made a net profit of over Rs 19,000 crore in H1 of FY2023-24. In Q3 FY2024, BPCL reported an 82 percent surge in its consolidated net profit at Rs 3,181.42 crore as compared to Rs 1,747.01 crore in the same period in FY23.

“BPCL is looking to build its fourth oil refinery in the country. The details are being worked out,” said Puri.

Alt="Hardeep Singh Puri"
Indian Oil, BPCL, HPCL post Rs 81,000 crore record profit in FY'24

Natural gas and ethanol blending target

The government has set out for itself the target of increasing the share of natural gas from 6 percent presently to 15 percent by 2030 and the target of taking ethanol blending to 20 percent by 2025. The minister said that in May itself, the ethanol blending crossed 15 percent, hinting that the target of 20 percent could be attained before the set deadline. However, the challenge of increasing the share of natural gas will not be so easy as the consumption of gas has more or less remained static for the last six years.

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