Fruit and flowers at the Dabhol Power Company

Vol 4, PW 19 (25 Oct 00) People & Policy

Enron has added a new dimension to the word 'Diversification.' Can it possibly be true the US energy major is branching out into the fruit and flower business A report from the Enron-controlled Dabhol Power Company confirms that it is working on plans to begin exporting exotic fruit and flowers grown in and around its project site.

Crazy as this might sound, the plan appears to have some logic, and even more surprising, synergy with its LNG business. It goes something like this: when Enron's LNG tanker offloads its liquefied gas after first imports sometime next year, the empty tanker will return filled with locally grown fruit and flowers.

"There is good demand for Indian fruits in the Middle East and Europe," the company tells Petrowatch, "We are keen to fully exploit the potential." With profit margins at 40%, Enron has signed up the local agricultural university - Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth - to develop hybrid varieties of mangoes and flowers. Today it grows about 40 varieties of mango around the project site and with time, hopes to produce all known varieties.

In India, the mango is known as the 'King of Fruit'. By 2005, the company hopes to generate Rs200cr ($44m) worth of revenue from its new business.

Apart from making money, the new business hopes to win favour with the local population, which remains hostile to the company.