New Delhi: India-born billionaire L.N. Mittal, who wants to make it big in oil after forming the world’s largest steel empire, has lost a bid for taking over Nigeria’s biggest oil refinery.
Mittal offered lesser than the $561-million winning bid by a consortium of three Nigerian indigenous companies for acquiring 51% of government stake in Port Harcourt refinery, industry sources said.
The winning Blue Star consortium consists of Zenon Oil, Dangote Oil and Gas and Transnational Corp, which belong to close associates of outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Blue Star emerged winner of the refinery in an open bid conducted on 17 May 2007 by the Nigerian privatisation agency — Bureau of Public Enterprises in Abuja.
Two other bidders, local fuel marketer Oando and the Sahara/Refinee PetroPlus, were disqualified for not providing bank drafts to cover 50% of their bid amount.
The sources said Mittal had originally planned to bid for the 2,10,000 barrels a day Port Harcourt refinery with Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd, but in the end went alone.
“When we gave Mittal a 49% stake in our proposed $3.3-billion Bhatinda refinery, he had envinced interest in teaming up with HPCL for Port Harcourt bid. We did our due diligence and decided against the investment,” a HPCL executive said.
Indian Oil Corp, India’s biggest refiner, was also invited by the Nigerian Government to participate in the refinery auction but it too decided against making an offer.
Mittal has joint ventures with Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) for oil business but bid for Port Harcourt refinery alone.