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India’s Oil Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan says the country is treading very cautiously in its plan to privatise the state-run oil refinery, Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd.

India’s plan to sell its 53.29 percent stake in BPCL was first announced in November 2019, and is part of a broader programme to spin off or sell stakes in dozens of state-owned companies.

India had planned to sell the stake by the end of the fiscal year to March 2021.

“Bharat Petroleum divestment is very much on the card,” Pradhan said during a virtual energy conference.

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“But, we all will appreciate looking into the net worth and looking into the size…the government is treading very cautiously (on) how to offload (the stake) through (a) proper process,” he explained.

BPCL’s shares have tumbled by about 38 percent from highs seen in November last year as fuel demand in India has been hit by restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

India’s demand for refined products is expected to rise, requiring a 40 percent increase in the country’s refining capacity to 350 million tonnes a year or seven million barrels per day (bpd) by 2030, Mr Pradhan said.

India plans to build a 1.2 million bpd refinery and petrochemical plant on the country’s West coast through a joint venture made up of Indian state refiners, Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.

But, the project has been held up as the joint venture has not yet acquired land after protests from farmers.

Mr Pradhan said the local issues impacting the project would be sorted out “very soon.”

The Minister also said that the Federal Government planned to gradually end the subsidy on cooking gas.


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