Oil India and Torrent planning gas retail debut

Vol 20, PW 9 (26 Jan 17) Midstream & Downstream

Oil India isn't exactly achieving great things in its traditional role as India's state-owned junior oil explorer.

And yet now following instructions from Narendra Modi it's diversifying into gas retail, as is Ahmedabad-based Torrent Power. Modi's instruction has resulted in both Oil India and Torrent considering submitting bids under the eighth retail gas licensing round where bids are due on February 23.

"Modi wants the city gas sector to move ahead fast," reports a Gandhinagar source. "He believes big companies like Oil India and Torrent can boost confidence in the sector." Both companies are expected to try their luck with all eight districts on offer: Karnal, Ambala and Kurukshetra in Haryana; Bulandshahr (part) and Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh; South Goa and Yanam in union territory Puducherry and Kolhapur in Maharashtra.

Oil India will bid only with another partner, probably an experienced player like fellow state-owned Hindustan Petroleum. Torrent however will bid alone.

"Torrent doesn't believe in joint ventures," adds a source. "It likes to work at its own pace." Both Oil India and HPCL attended the January 10 pre-bid but Torrent stayed away.

"Torrent stayed away because it did not want to raise expectations," we hear. When contacted a Torrent source did not comment.

But an Oil India source confirms the new direction: "Traditionally we have been an upstream player," he said. "But now we plan to enter the midstream and downstream sectors."