The government is keen on reviving the plan to set up a mega refinery on the coast of Maharashtra with a capacity of 60 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), said Hardeep Singh Puri, minister of petroleum and natural gas, and housing and urban affairs.
India had planned to set up a $50 billion mega refinery on the west coast but the project didn't take off despite backing from state-run oil companies and investment commitment from the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). The project has been stalled since 2018 due to disputes over land acquisition.
"When an opportunity like this is missed, it is very regrettable. We need to try and revive the project. We have sent feelers all around," Puri said.
The mega refinery-cum-petrochemicals complex project was first announced in 2015; it was slated to be the biggest in Asia. State run-refining and marketing companies– Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL)– came together to form a new entity to set up the project, namely Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd.In 2018, Saudi Aramco and the ADNOC signed a framework agreement to jointly develop the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited project. The two energy majors from the Middle East were to hold a 50 percent stake in the project, while IOCL would own a 25 percent stake and the remaining 25 percent would be divided equally between BPCL and HPCL.
The project faced challenges, first with land acquisition and then from local citizens who protested against it due to concerns over its impact on the environment. In 2019, Shiv Sena, which was against the project, pushed its alliance partner in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to shelve the project. Since then, the political alliance broke and the state has seen two governments– Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government and now the Chief Minister Eknath Shinde-led BJP-Shiv Sena government.
“I have the bandwidth now (to revive the project). I have reasonable confidence that the current government will show enthusiasm,” Puri said.Disclaimer: Moneycontrol is a part of the Network18 group. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries (RIL) is the sole beneficiary.