Home / Industry / Energy /  Saudi Aramco-backed Ratnagiri refinery may be shifted to Raigad

MUMBAI : The $44 billion refinery and petrochemicals project being implemented by Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (RRPCL) may come up in Roha, a city in Raigad district of Maharashtra, according to two oil company executives aware of the development.

“The refinery may come up in Roha. The companies involved have given their consent. The Maharashtra chief minister is likely to make a formal announcement next month," said one of the officials cited above.

RRPCL is a joint venture between Saudi Aramco, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), and three state-run oil marketing companies, Indian Oil Corp. (IOCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corp. (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corp. (BPCL). Saudi Aramco and Adnoc will jointly own 50% of the refinery, with the remaining 50% being owned by the Indian oil companies.

The land bank for the project could be around 10,000 acres.

“We are assuming that the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation has secured the land this time and the transfer process would be smooth. The land that has been acquired and is being acquired are different pieces of land," said one of the officials mentioned above.

IOCL, HPCL, and BPCL did not reply to email queries till press time.

The Ratnagiri refinery project, announced in December 2015, was to be commissioned by 2022, but delays in land acquisition pushed the deadline to 2025.

Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had said in February that his government would relocate the refinery project, following protests by farmers and local landowners who feared the project may damage flora and fauna in the region, and affect Alphonso mango and cashew plantations.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ally Shiv Sena had also backed the people opposing the refinery in the Ratnagiri district. Moving the project out of Ratnagiri was one of the conditions on which the Shiv Sena renewed its alliance with the BJP for the recently held Lok Sabha elections and the Assembly polls in Maharashtra to be held in October.

Raigad is located in the Konkan region of the state and Roha has a big industrial set up with the majority of the industrial units being chemical process industries.

“I think the political parties have come to a consensus that it’s best not to lose a refinery project of this scale. So, a decision on this is imperative," said the second official cited above.

The pre-feasibility study of the 60 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) refinery has been completed. The refinery will be capable of processing 1.2 million barrels of crude oil and produce 18 million tonnes per annum of petrochemicals. It will provide direct and indirect employment to up to 150,000 people.

The site of the project has been finalized but it may be announced later in view of the upcoming assembly elections, according to two Maharashtra government officials. A top Maharashtra government bureaucrat, however, said on condition of anonymity that Roha hadn’t been finalized “as yet" but added that political factors may have delayed the decision. “Roha is a feasible site in many ways but the chief minister may not want to make that announcement right now as Roha is in Raigad district and some activists had earlier this month opposed the setting up of the project in Raigad, too, after the matter came up during the recent monsoon session of the state legislature. The chief minister may not want to create a fresh controversy at this stage though many factors do favour Roha," said the official.

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