IOCL bets on petrochemical, gas marketing portfolios for growth

IOCL plans to invest Rs43,000 crore for implementation of various petrochemical projects in the next four years


From 2009 onward, IOCL has expanded in the upstream or exploration and production sector as well as alternative energy. 
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
From 2009 onward, IOCL has expanded in the upstream or exploration and production sector as well as alternative energy. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Mumbai: Petrochemical and gas marketing is the next big bet IndianOil Corp. Ltd (IOCL) is taking in a bid to expand its business beyond the core of refining and marketing.

“We are bullish on our new businesses, that is, petrochemicals and gas marketing. There is tremendous demand for petrochemicals, where we are now the second largest player in India,” said B. Ashok, Chairman, IOCL.

IOCL, the country’s largest refiner and marketer, has 20% market share in the petrochemicals segment and plans to invest Rs.43,000 crore for implementation of various petrochemical projects in the next four years. In natural gas marketing, the company would be investing around Rs.7,800 crore over the same period.

IOCL has implemented petrochemical projects worth Rs.20,800 crore up to 2015-16. Reliance Industries is the market leader in petrochemicals with a 38% market share while Gail India holds a 15% market share and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd account for the remaining 27% between them.

Over the years, IOCL has been expanding its business verticals and into getting newer areas. While in the pre-1999 era IOCL was only a refining and marketing company, post 1999 it has expanded into petrochemicals and natural gas.

From 2009 onward, the company has expanded in the upstream or exploration and production sector as well as alternative energy.

“Going forward, we are implementing several petchem projects, one of them being the polypropylene plant at Paradip, Orissa for Rs.3,150 crore. And we are confident that our bottomline from the petrochemicals vertical will improve significantly in the years to come,” added Ashok.

In an emailed reply, IOCL said the additional investments it is making in the sector will further enhance integration of its refineries with the petrochemical units with respect to feedstock, utilities, return streams, etc. It will ensure continuous supply of feedstock and utilities at competitive price. Apart from integration, value addition in the petrochemical streams is also envisaged.

At present Panipat (Haryana) and Koyali (Gujarat) refineries are integrated. Paradip (Odisha) and Barauni (Bihar) are expected to be integrated in the next five years.

IOCL, which sells its petrochemical products under the brand of Propel, registered the highest ever sales of petrochemicals at 2.538 million tonnes in 2015-16, as against 2.477 million tonnes in the previous year. The Petrochemicals segment has contributed more than Rs.22,000 crore (5%) to the total revenue. With petrochemical sector being one of the fastest growing sectors in the Indian economy, IndianOil envisages petrochemicals to contribute 10% of the corporate revenue and 40% in profits in the next three to five years.

“The corporation is now the second largest polymer supplier in the country with Propel grades covering over 80% of the plastics applications, and with over 50 polymer grades introduced and stabilised in the domestic market,” IOCL said in its fourth quarter statement.

With two new destinations, France and Germany, added during the year, Propel petrochemicals are now being exported to 71 countries, and polymer intermediates to 53 countries, the statement added.

For financial year 2015-16, IOCL’s net profit was Rs.10,399 crore against Rs.5,273 crore in the last fiscal. Income from operations for FY-16 came in at Rs.3.50 trillion as compared to Rs.4.37 trillion in 2014-15. Petchem contributes 5% of total income for IOCL. The segment contributed 30% of the total profit before tax for FY16 against 35% for FY 15.

“Expanding into new businesses would give IOCL a natural hedge against its core business of refining and marketing which is heavily dependent on crude oil price movements. Last fiscal 5% of IOCL’s total revenue came from Petchem, providing it a good cushion against the inventory losses of Rs.9,731 crore that the company registered,” said an analyst with a domestic brokerage on the condition of anonymity as he is not allowed to talk to the media.

While China accounts for 25% of the demand from the global petrochemicals market, India is the leader in the rest of Asia-Pacific, with increasing demand for products containing petrochemicals. India’s flourishing manufacturing sector is expected to give a further fillip to the regional market for petrochemicals.

In the natural gas marketing segment, for the first time in 2015-16, IOCL imported nine Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) cargoes on its own. This is in addition to LNG sourced through its joint venture Petronet LNG Ltd.

IOCL marketed 1.929 million tonnes of natural gas during the year 2015-16, registering a 6.9% growth in sales over the previous year. Sale of over 19,000 tonnes of gas was achieved through the offer of ‘LNG at the Doorstep’ facility for customers located away from gas pipelines.

IOCL is also looking to book capacity and equity participation in various upcoming LNG projects in the country, including in Gujarat and Odisha.

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