New Delhi: Reliance Industries, the country’s most valuable company, is eyeing acquisition of oil refineries in the United States and the Middle East as the Mukesh Ambani-run firm looks at expanding its overseas portfolio.
“Operating a refinery or building a new refinery or upgrading an existing one is our biggest strength. There are takeover opportunities in the US and we are certainly interested,” RIL CEO (Oil and Gas) P.M.S. Prasad told reporters here.
Several refineries in the US, he said, are up for sale and the company was studying atleast a couple of them. He, however, refused to give any further details.
Prasad said none of the refineries Reliance was looking at belonged to Shell or Chevron. “There are several offers... some for sale of part stake and some for outright sale. We are not looking at any of the Shell or Chevron refinery.”
Reliance is vying with China National Petroleum Corp for a 230,000 barrels a day (11.5 million tonnes) refinery at Guatemala.
RIL, which owns India’s largest refinery off 660,000 barrels a day at Jamnagar in Gujarat and is building another 580,000-barrel refinery adjacent to it that will make it the world’s sixth largest refiner, is also looking at setting up refinery projects in the Middle East.
It plans to set up a 50,000-barrel refinery in Yemen and is looking at opportunities in Libya, Oman and Iraq.
“Our chairman (Mukesh Ambani) had discussions with Iraqi Oil Minister (last month). They are interested in upgrading and revamping their existing refineries first and building new ones at a later stage. We will look at the opportunity,” Prasad said.
“There are opportunities in these countries and elsewhere but we will evaluate before sticking our neck out. We will only go for projects that make sense to us,” Prasad said.
He said Reliance was looking at taking over oil and gas exploration acreage in Latin America and Australia. “We have bid for two to three blocks with Santos (of Australia) in Australia’s latest licensing round (for exploration blocks),” he said.
Besides, the company was also looking at exploration blocks in Peru and Columbia.
“We are deliberately staying away from discovered or producing blocks as our internal (investment) norms don’t justify the (asking) price,” he said.
RIL has interests in exploration of overseas blocks, one each in Yemen and Oman. RIL had oil discoveries in the on shore Malik 9 block in Yemen. The development plan for the block has been approved by Yemen and test production commenced in December 2005.
In the Oman offshore block where RIL is the operator, the existing seismic data has been collected and 2D reprocessing of data is underway.
RIL has also signed a technical evaluation agreement with ANH (Columbia’s hydrocarbon regulator) and also entered into a co-operation agreement with Ecopetrol (National Oil Company of Columbia) for farm-in opportunities in that country.