India offers stakes in petrochemical plants to Kuwait

State-run oil companies are scouting for partners for technology and marketing support, and are seeking fresh sources for supply of crude oil

Moving beyond the supplier-buyer relationship, India has offered Kuwait a stake in Oil and Natural Gas Corp’s Rs12,440-crore petrochemical plant at Dahej in Gujarat and Indian Oil Corp’s (IOC) proposed chemical unit at Paradip, reports PTI.

The oil-rich nation's national oil firm Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) has time and again spurned offers for stakes in Indian refinery projects as it, like its Saudi counterpart Saudi Aramco, wanted auto fuel distribution rights—a proposition not possible considering only State-owned firms qualify for government subsidies.

Petroleum minister Murli Deora met his Kuwati counterpart Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah on the sidelines of the XII International Energy Forum here yesterday and offered a stake in the mega-petrochemical plants being built on the west and east coasts, said Sunil Jain, joint secretary in the petroleum ministry.

ONGC is keen to get an overseas major who can either bring technology or marketing support for its Dahej plant that will be built by February 2012.

IOC has been for long looking at equity partners in companies like Saudi Aramco and KPC, who can supply crude oil to the Paradip refinery project in Orissa.

New Delhi is looking at Kuwait and other oil-rich nations in the Gulf region for meeting crude oil demand from India’s new refinery plants. India's refining capacity is to increase from 180 million tonnes (MT) to 250MT by 2012.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia had yielded an assurance from the world’s largest oil exporter for increasing crude supplies from 25.5MT to 40MT a year by 2012.
 

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Petrol, diesel to cost up to 50 paise more in 13 cities

Various oil companies had invested Rs40,000 crore in putting up facilities to produce cleaner fuel and the prices have been increased to make up for the cost

Thirteen big cities, including the four metros, will switch to cleaner 'Euro-IV' grade motor fuel from tomorrow, on account of which consumers would have to shell out up to Rs 0.50 a litre more.

Petrol prices in Delhi will go up by Rs0.50 per litre to Rs 47.93 a litre and diesel by Rs0.26 to Rs38.10 a litre on account of supply of the cleaner Euro-IV fuel, a government official said, but did not wish to be identified.

Thirteen cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Surat, Ahmedabad, Pune and Sholapur will move from Euro-III grade fuel to Euro-IV from tomorrow. Rates will vary from city to city depending upon local taxes.

The rest of the country will switch from Euro-II specification fuel to Euro-III in phases, beginning with Goa from tomorrow. Sale of Euro-III grade will be phased over the next five-six months.

Euro-III petrol will cost Rs 0.26 a litre more and same grade diesel Rs 0.21 per litre, the official said, adding that the rates will differ from city to city.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh, who was approached by the the petroleum ministry for clearance, had yesterday approved the price hike.

Oil companies had invested Rs40,000 crore in putting up facilities to produce cleaner fuel and the prices have been increased to make up for the cost.

This will be the third hike in diesel rates for Delhi in less than a month and the second for petrol. Petrol prices were raised by Rs2.71 and diesel by Rs2.55 a litre from 27th February as finance minister Pranab Mukherjee hiked excise and customs duties. Diesel rates went up by Rs2.37 on 23rd March  when the Delhi government raised VAT on the fuel.

Euro-IV grade auto fuel confirms to European emission standards that define acceptable limits for vehicle exhaust emissions for member states of the European Union. It is less polluting since it restricts the presence of sulphur in the fuel.

The official said that oil firms could not have absorbed the cost of producing cleaner fuel as they lose about Rs250 crore per day on selling auto and cooking fuel below cost. Retailers Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum currently lose Rs6 per litre on petrol, Rs4.06 a litre on diesel,
Rs16.91 per litre on kerosene and Rs267.36 per 14.2-kg LPG cylinder.

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India proposes dialogue with Iran on gas pipeline

New Delhi’s offer follows Iran and Pakistan signing pacts to implement the project on a bilateral basis

Seeking to revive talks that have been frozen for almost three years, India today proposed dialogue with Iran to discuss impediments in implementation of the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project, reports PTI.

Petroleum minister Murli Deora met Iran’s deputy minister for international affairs H Noghrehkar Shirazi on the sidelines of the 12th International Energy Forum to propose bilateral talks in May.

“We are ready to hold talks and have proposed meeting of a Joint Working Group (of the two countries) on the pipeline project,” Sunil Jain, joint secretary (International Cooperation), said after the meeting.

India has been boycotting formal talks on the project since 2007 over security concerns. “We are waiting for them (Iran) to decide on the dates,” Mr Jain said.

New Delhi’s offer follows Iran and Pakistan signing pacts to implement the long-talked project on a bilateral basis.

India wants Iran to be responsible for safe passage of gas through the 1,035-km pipeline length in Pakistan and would pay for the fuel only when it is delivered at the Pakistan-India border.

Iran, on the other hand, has suggested a trilateral mechanism, meaning contractual provisions between three countries, to ensure safe delivery of gas to India. Under this system, New Delhi pays for its share of gas even if the supplies were to be disrupted in Pakistan, officials said.
Officials said that Tehran has been insisting that ownership of gas would be transferred at the Iran-Pakistan border while New Delhi wants it to be the Pakistan-India border, thereby making Iran explicitly responsible for safe delivery of gas.

India wants in-built safeguards in the contract to ensure safe delivery of gas at the India-Pakistan border.

While the 1,100-km pipeline from the South Pars gas fields in the Persian Gulf to the Iran-Pakistan border would be laid by an Iranian firm, New Delhi wants to take stake in the 1,035-km pipeline section in Pakistan.

India feels that its participation in execution of the pipeline in Pakistan would make the project more bankable, reduce the financing cost, ensure timely execution and ensure transparent and efficient management of the operations, officials said, adding that Islamabad has so far not agreed to the proposal.

The pipeline has been on the drawing board since the mid-1990s, when Iran and India inked preliminary agreements to transport gas through Pakistan. It was dubbed the 'Peace Pipeline' because of hopes that it would lead to a detente between neighbours India and Pakistan.

India says it fears for safety of the pipeline in Pakistan's Baluchistan province, home to a militant separatist movement. Officials added that New Delhi is also upset with Iran's frequent changes in gas prices.

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