Oil India revives asset 'swap' idea with ONGC

Vol 24, PW 12 (06 May 21) People & Policy

Oil India's imminent takeover of Numaligarh Refinery (NRL) has revived its aspiration to become a pan-northeastern company, focused solely on its home turf.

Oil India directors are re-visiting a plan, first mooted in 2013, to take over ONGC's assets in the northeast. Oil India's earlier unwillingness to absorb ONGC's northeast-based workforce and associated financial liabilities forced it to drop the idea in the past.

But new thinking suggests ONGC could 'swap' its assets in the northeast with Oil India assets outside the northeast, in the rest of India. "ONGC can take Oil India's assets in Rajasthan and Kakinada and elsewhere, and we can have ONGC's northeast assets," says an Oil India source.

Under review are plans where Oil India would offer its ten assets in Rajasthan, two in the Cauvery basin, six in the Mahanadi basin, two in the Andaman Islands, and its Kerala Konkan, Mumbai Offshore and two KG blocks. In exchange, ONGC would cede control of its assets controlled from Nazira, Jorhat, Silchar and Agartala, and its AAAB office at Jorhat.

"Oil India would also want the Tripura asset," stresses another source. "The government is in favour of this; our board has also discussed it."

Oil India's proposal is gaining traction following the sale by BPCL of Numaligarh Refinery (NRL), where Oil India now holds a controlling 80.16% stake. In recent days, Oil India has also begun talking to the state government to acquire land for a new corporate office in the Bamuni Maidan area of Guwahati; earlier plans to shift the corporate office to Guwahati from Noida were deemed impractical and shelved.

"But an ED or CGM rank officer will be posted at the new Guwahati office to liaise with state government agencies on forest clearance and other problem areas," we hear. Oil India currently operates only a field HQ in Duliajan and a crude and gas pipelines office at Narengi near Guwahati.