Home > politics > policy > North-east at the centre of NDA’s hydrocarbon strategy

India is planning projects totalling 1.3 trillion in public and private investments in the north-eastern region to double oil and gas output in the next 15 years with an eye on markets such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar, said a document released on Tuesday by oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan in Guwahati.

At present, the country produces 223 million tonnes of petroleum products and 33 billion standard cubic metres of natural gas a year.

The document, which the petroleum ministry described as an “actionable road map with inputs from state governments" prescribes 80,000 crore in investments in upstream oil and gas exploration and production, 20,000 crore in midstream refining capacity and another 30,000 crore in downstream polymer capacity.

A strong network of crude oil and natural gas pipelines would be set up as part of the plan.

It also proposes expanding the fuel marketing infrastructure in the region and opening up retail facilities in neighbouring countries with local partners, said a petroleum industry executive who asked not to be named.

“North-east India would be a gateway of South-East Asia in future," Pradhan tweeted on Tuesday morning.

“Achieving this vision calls for collaborative efforts of central and state governments with the determination to bring a developmental shift that the people of north-east deserve," an official statement issued later in the day said, quoting the minister.

A highlight of the plan is a three-fold increase in the three-million-tonne-a-year refinery capacity of Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL), owned by Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL), Oil India Ltd (OIL) and the Assam government.

The project entails a cost of about 19,000 crore. Indian Oil Corp. (IOC) has three refineries at Digboi, Guwahati and Bongaigaon with a total output of four million metric tonnes.

“The north-east region has a huge hydrocarbon resource potential. Hydrocarbon resources in the region accounts for about 20% of all India resources and over 50% of total onshore resources in the country," said a note from CRISIL Infrastructure Advisory, which advised the petroleum ministry in preparing the plan.

The government will also encourage new downstream industries in the area that will use refinery by-products as raw material, exploiting the 2.8 lakh tonne polymer production from the Assam gas cracker project inaugurated last Friday.

The Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Ltd (BCPL), which owns the unit, is a joint venture between Gail India Ltd, OIL, NRL and the Assam government.

India has a petrochemical industry with a turnover of $40 billion, but it accounts for only a small share of the $600 billion global petrochemical market dominated by China and the US. This offers immense scope for increasing domestic capacity for global consumption.

Petrochemical industry executives said that synthetic textiles is one area that generates global demand, while having the cap-acity to create more local jobs.

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