Lucky Oman Oil spoilt for choice

Vol 4, PW 3 (15 Mar 00) Midstream & Downstream

Oman Oil is being aggressively persuaded by Bharat Petroleum and Essar Oil to take a stake in their respective refinery projects.

Confused, Oman Oil has written to the oil ministry asking for advice on which project to choose. It naturally doesn't want to put its money in both.

Essar Oil officials contacted by this report are supremely confident Oman will choose its 10.5m t/y project at Vadinar over the 6m t/y project at Bina in Madhya Pradesh, promoted through its joint venture with Bharat Petroleum. Bharat Petroleum officials are likewise confidant Oman will choose their project over Essar's.

A meeting between Bharat Petroleum and Oman Oil representatives is scheduled for March 24th in Oman. "We are sure we will be able to convince Oman to stay with the project," a top official of the joint venture company tells Petrowatch.

Issues to be discussed at the meeting include the sharp escalation in project cost from Rs5,000cr ($1.15bn) to Rs8,000cr ($1.84bn) and the threat from Reliance Petroleum's 27m t/y refinery in Gujarat. Prospects for the Bina refinery improved dramatically in February this year when Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel put his signature to the outstanding environmental clearance, which blocked the project for years and almost forced Oman Oil to abandon India.

Crude for the Bina refinery will arrive at Vadinar on the Gujarat coast and transported through a 935-kilometres long pipeline to the refinery. If completed it will be the third inland refinery in India after Mathura and Panipat.