Millennium Post

Oil PSUs to invest Rs 6,000 crore in Assam this fiscal: Pradhan

Public sector oil firms will invest Rs 6,000 crore in Assam during the current financial year on various activities, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday said. “In this fiscal, Rs 6,000 crore investment will be made in Assam by all public sector oil firms. This amount will be invested for implementing various plans, including capacity expansion. We have already started the work,” Pradhan told reporters here.

The investment will be made by the companies for EMP, setting up new pipelines, expanding capacities and marketing among others, he added. “As per the Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 for North East India, a total of Rs 1,30,000 crore will be invested in the region. Out of this, Rs 80,000 crore will be spent in Assam,” the minister said.

As part of its plans to develop Assam’s hydrocarbon sector, the Centre will put 12 small oilfields of the state under auction along with 55 other such discoveries across the country, he added. “All these 67 oilfields were discovered during the last 8-40 years and are with Oil India and ONGC. As these are small oilfields, they were not so financially viable. Now we are targeting to garner Rs 30,000 crore from the auctioning of these 67 blocks,” Pradhan said. For 12 blocks in Assam, the Centre will do a roadshow here from tomorrow to attract bidders for the auction, which begins on July 15.

Pradhan said the Centre is working to make North East a hub for hydrocarbons for the entire South East Asia by developing crude import infrastructure and promoting trade between the region and SAARC countries, mainly with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan. “North East India has four refineries with a combined installed capacity of 7  mmtpa, all of them in Assam. Our target is to expand the refining capacity of the region to 16 mmtpa,” he added.

He urged Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who accompanied him during the press conference, to waive the entry tax for imported crude into the state. Pradhan claimed that the per capita consumption of liquid petroleum product in Assam is 62 kg as against the national average of 138 kg, while the same in respect to electricity consumption stands at 254 kw as compared to 1,000 kw in entire India. He said the companies will set up an additional 5,000 km pipelines for crude, product, LPG and natural gas, besides enhancing the capacity of the LPG bottling plant. Pradhan said 20 lakh poor women will be given LPG connection over the next three years in Assam, including 15 lakh under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.

Centre assures Assam of support against oil PSUs on royalty issue
The Centre on Friday said it will support Assam's stand in the legal procedure the state will undertake against the public sector oil companies regarding the royalty issue. "In our meeting today, we resolved to support Assam and to proceed in the matter legally. The Central government will definitely help Assam and will ask the oil companies to pay after the legal procedure," Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said at a press conference here. From 2014, about Rs 1,450 crore are due from Oil India and ONGC to Assam after the Supreme Court gave an interim relief to Gujarat, he claimed. The Centre has already asked the companies to pay the amount after the legal procedure, he said. Attacking former Prime Minster Manmohan Singh and former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Pradhan said: "The state was represented by the PM and I never understood why the state was neglected so much. In Centre and state, there was Congress government.

"When I had met Tarun Gogoi, I said that I would like to help him... He filed a writ petition and was sitting over it for two years." Assam government had filed a petition in 2014 at Gauhati High Court regarding the royalty issue. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has been allowing ONGC and OIL to supply crude to oil marketing companies at highly discounted rates and has asked the producers to pay royalty to the states on the basis of such subsidised prices.

The Tarun Gogoi-led Assam government claimed many times that the amount of discount has at times been as high as 90 per cent or more and this has handed the state a cumulative loss of revenue of more than Rs 10,000 crore since 2008-09. The Supreme Court, in its interim order, had directed ONGC to pay oil royalty to Gujarat at pre-discounted crude price beginning February 1, 2014. Earlier, the Gujarat High Court, in a petition filed by the Gujarat government, held that the royalty should be payable to the state at market price of crude oil and not post-discount price. 

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