HPCL may take on partners for south India unit

HPCL may take on partners for south India unit

Mumbai: Hindustan Petroleum Corp could take on steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, gas firm GAIL (India) Ltd and/or explorer Oil India Ltd as partners in a new project in south India, chairman Arun Balakrishnan said.

“We are thinking what we should go for -- a petrochemicals complex or a refinery," Balakrishnan said on 6 September.

“These companies have shown interest in the new project, but no investment decision has been taken as yet," he told Reuters after the company’s annual shareholders meeting.

Mittal’s Singapore-based Mittal Energy Investments is HPCL’s partner with a 49% stake in a proposed refinery to be set up in Bhatinda in northern India.

Balakrishnan said talks had ended with France’s Total and Kuwait Petroleum International about them taking an equity stake in the expansion of HPCL’s existing 150,000 barrels-per-day refinery in south India.

“We are not looking for any partners now and are doing the expansion project ourselves," he said.

Indian refiners are seeking foreign partners to help secure crude supplies and fund expansion plans. The government wants India to be a major fuel exporter within five years.

But oil majors have been reluctant to invest due to low domestic prices and an uncertain outlook for global margins.