File photo of NRL maingate. Image credit - Wikimedia Commons

The Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), which has 61.65 percent stake in Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL), wants its stake sale to a government company.

A media report quoted BPCL executives as saying that they hope the disinvestment of the central government’s share in BPCL and NRL happens ‘concurrently’.

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman last year announced that the strategic sale of BPCL would take place in March 2020.

She had said the sale is an essential part of the government’s plan to meet its target of raising over Rs 1 lakh crore for the current financial year.

However, coming under pressure from various organizations of Assam and the BJP-led state government, the central government the Centre clarified that NRL will remain in the public sector and the proposed BPCL disinvestment programme will exclude the firm’s share in Numaligarh.

The BPCL presently has 61.65 pc stake in NRL, Assam government has 12.35 pc and OIL has 26 pc.

The BPCL executive, as per the report, said the company has already extended the opportunity of right of first refusal to the Assam government for the proposed stake sale of BPCL’s 61.65 pc stake in NRL.

They expect the Expression of Interest (EoI) for BPCL’s stake sale to be floated before the end of the current month.

The report quoted an executive as saying: “The board has decided to give an opportunity to the government of Assam first as they have the right of first refusal.”

Also read: Assam government urges Centre for more stakes at NRL

“The letter has already gone and depending on the response we will take action to ensure that the sale is made to a government company in the oil sector as per the CCEA decision,” the executive said.

The disinvestment of BPCL’s share in NRL will be a relatively simple process as compared to BPCL stake sale, said the executives.

Also read: Assam: Land allocated to NRL for setting up crude oil terminal in Paradip

“This will be a much simpler job as compared to BPCL and in any case we are very confident that this can be done concurrently with BPCL if not earlier. We are confident that NRL transaction is not going to upset the government’s time schedule for BPCL disinvestment,” a report quoted a BPCL executive as saying.

The company on Thursday reportedly wrote a letter to the chief secretary of Assam requesting the state government to express its interest in buying NRL within two weeks.

Assam industry ministry Chandra Mohan Patowary recently said the state government is keen to increase its share in NRL and the BPCL’s stake in the Numaligarh-based refinery should be given to OIL.

The minister said Assam government’s shareholding in Numaligarh Refinery should be hiked to 26 per cent from present 12 percent.

Meanwhile, BPCL’s plan to invest in NRL’s refinery expansion will have to be put on hold.

Earlier, the management of oil major BPCL cleared a plan to expand refining capacity of NRL to 9 million tonnes per annum (MMTPA) from 3 MMTPA currently at a cost of Rs 22,594 crore.

The report further quoted a BPCL executive as saying: “BPCL will not be participating in capex plan of NRL because NRL will become a different company by then.”

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