Mumbai: State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd (ONGC) plans to leverage its units, ONGC Tripura Power Co. Ltd (OTPC), Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL), and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), to win upstream linked electricity generation and refining projects overseas, said a senior company executive. The move is likely to help boost India’s energy security.

India is likely to continue to depend on fuel imports as domestic production has been unable to cope with rising demand. ONGC, which accounts for 73% of India’s oil and gas output, acquired the government’s stake in HPCL for 36,915 crore last year.

ONGC has, however, been facing concerns over its production performance. Its gas output grew 6.6% in the third quarter as compared to the corresponding period in the last fiscal, even as crude oil production fell around 5%. The government recently asked ONGC and Oil India Ltd to sell 66 of their small oil and gas fields to private firms.

“If there is a refining-linked upstream opportunity, we will explore it. We wouldn’t be doing a stand-alone refining play. We are open to it," said the ONGC official mentioned above, requesting anonymity.

The move will help ONGC become a global integrated energy major. ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of ONGC, has invested $28 billion in 41 projects across 20 countries and has probable reserves of 711.36 million tonnes of oil equivalent.

HPCL has a refining capacity of 15.8 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) at Mumbai and Visakhapatnam. It also has a joint venture, the HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd that runs the Bhatinda refinery in Punjab.

OTPC has been looking for gas-based opportunities. They have developed good competencies. We are looking at all options and are not confined to India. We are looking overseas where we can get at an economical price. Also, we may consider expansion at Palatana," said the ONGC executive quoted above.

“OTPC has been looking at Bangladesh for setting up gas-fuelled power projects," the executive said.

India has been playing a key role in creating a new energy security architecture for its neighbours such as Bangladesh against the backdrop of China’s Belt and Road initiative. Cross border energy trade is a key part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s South Asia-focused neighbourhood-first policy. Bangladesh has also been looking at India to meet its ambitious target of providing “electricity to all" by 2021.

Queries emailed to the spokespersons of ONGC and HPCL late on Monday evening remained unanswered till the time of going to press.

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