Millennium Post

Petronet LNG Ltd in talks to buy stake in GSPC's Mundra

Petronet LNG Ltd, India's biggest importer of liquid gas, is in talks to buy 25 per cent stake in Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation's (GSPC) almost- complete Rs 4,500-crore Mundra LNG import terminal in Gujarat.

The 5-million tonne a year import terminal, the third facility in Gujarat for import of natural gas in its liquid form in ships, is nearing completion and GSPC is keen to shed some of its stake to lighten its debt burden.

GSPC first offered its 50 per cent stake in the project to state refiner Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), but the company was willing to take no more than 25-26 per cent.

So now, GSPC is talking to Petronet for selling 25 per cent stake, sources privy to the development said.

The Adani group holds 25 per cent interest in the LNG import terminal. GSPC LNG, a unit of GSPC, will hold 25 per cent stake, similar to IOC and Petronet once the deal concludes, they said.

While Petronet LNG CEO and Managing Director Prabhat Singh did not respond to calls made for comments, GSPC could not be immediately reached for comments.

With a view to expanding its gas business, IOC is keen to buy a stake in the Mundra terminal. Petronet, too, is keen to raise its import capacity.

Petronet operates a 15-mt a year LNG import facility at Dahej in Gujarat and has another 5-mt a year terminal at Kochi in Kerala.

IOC, the country's largest oil company, is building a 5- mt a year LNG import terminal at Ennore in Tamil Nadu by 2018 -end.

Besides the Dahej liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facility of Petronet, Gujarat has another 5 mt terminal of Shell at Hazira.

Initially, GSPC was to hold 50 per cent stake in the Mundra LNG terminal and Adani 25 per cent. The remaining 25 per cent was to be offered to a strategic partner.

IOC as also India Gas Solutions Pvt Ltd – the equal JV between the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries and Europe's second-largest oil firm BP – and state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) were short-listed to pick 25 per cent stake earmarked for the strategic partner in the project.

Initially, eight firms, including state gas utility GAIL India, had expressed interest in buying the stake, but only three were finalised.

Sources said GSPC has now rejigged the entire stake sale, by offering half of its stake to IOC and another 25 per cent to Petronet.

GSPC is looking at a partner which can bring in LNG or consume the imported liquid gas, sources said.

The Mundra terminal, which is to be financed in a debt to equity ratio of 70:30, is expandable up to 10 mt per annum in the near future.
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