Shinde-Fadnavis govt hints at revival of mega refinery project in Konkan region

Newly appointed industry minister Uday Samant to meet stakeholders to resolve misconceptions

Sanjay JogUpdated: Monday, August 15, 2022, 10:22 PM IST
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Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde and Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis | PTI

Mumbai: The Shinde-Fadnavis government on Monday indicated that the controversial mega oil refinery project, which was scrapped in March 2019 owing to strong opposition from the Shiv Sena and villagers in Ratnagiri, will come up in the Konkan region.

The oil refinery was pitched as Asia’s biggest and was to come up at Nanar village in Ratnagiri. It was meant to be a joint venture between Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Aramco from Saudi Arabia, which exhibited resistance owing to unprecedented delay.

However, Aramco’s participation is being discussed as it has conveyed to the Union petroleum industry that the project may take 15 years if land acquisition is delayed. “Aramco has desired to disassociate due to these reasons. The project entails an investment of Rs 3 lakh crore for setting up of the largest single location refinery complex in the world with a capacity of 60 million tonnes,” a senior industry department officer said.

The officer added that the state government will urge the Union petroleum ministry to direct the IOC, BPCL and HPCL to carry out project development in the absence of Aramco if the production capacity is reduced to 20 million tonnes. “The ball is now in the Centre’s court,” he said.

The newly appointed industry minister Uday Samant, on Monday, said he will soon convene a meeting of all stakeholders to resolve misconceptions about the project. He said that not just the refinery, but every stalled project in the Konkan region should be welcomed in order to address the issue of unemployment.

Samant’ announcement has brightened the project’s prospects as there is no indication of shifting it to Gujarat as discussed earlier in the political circles. The Shinde-Fadnavis government expects the Uddhav Thackeray led Shiv Sena to not oppose it this time round.

Samant will soon make an appeal to deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to seek the Centre’s intervention so that its implementation kicks off. This is important as the Maha Vikas Aghadi had expressed its desire to instead pursue the project at Barsu in Ratnagiri.

Meanwhile, the state-run Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) is already conducting gel-statistical studies at Barsu, the project’s new location, for experimental design and quality control.

About a month ago, Union minister Narayan Rane, along with former BJP MLA Pramod Jakhar, had met the Union petroleum minister Hardeep Singh Puri to discuss the fate of the refinery, especially after the Russia-Ukraine war and its viability in the Konkan region. They had urged the ministry to ask Indian oil marketing companies to undertake the project development. However, the ministry has yet to take a call.

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