Numaligarh Refinery to foray into crude exploration in Assam
North East India’s largest refiner Numaligarh Refinery Ltd on Thursday said it has firmed up plans to diversify into exploration of crude oil within the next few months.
The Mini Ratna PSU’s board has already given its nod for an initial investment of Rs 150 crore for the diversification and the company has sought approvals for commencing exploration in two blocks in Assam along with other partners.
“This is the first time NRL is getting into exploration. We have already received our board’s approval for this and in view of initial risk involvement, they have earmarked Rs 150 crore for the initial exploration purposes,” NRL Managing Director S K Barua told in an interview here.
The company will pump in more money if oil is found in the two blocks, he said.
The company has identified Namrup block in Dibrugarh and Mesaki in Tinsukia districts for foraying into exploration of crude.
“By October this year, we are likely to get government approvals for the two blocks. Then by early next year, we will start exploration works,” Barua said.
Asked about the other partners, he said Oil India has 70 per cent stake in Namrup block, while NRL has 20 per cent and private player Hindustan Oil Exploration Company (HOEC) owns 10 per cent.
“In Mesaki, Oil India holds 70 per cent stake and NRL, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Bharat Petroleum’s wholly- owned subsidiary Bharat PetroResources Ltd (BPRL) own 10 per cent each,” Barua said.
Oil India will be the operator of the two blocks, he said adding that once oil is detected during the exploration process, drilling will be done.
The NRL currently has one refinery in Golaghat district with an installed capacity of three million metric tonne per annum (mmtpa) and is importing crude to make it fully operational due to shortage of the raw material in Assam and north east region.
The NRL is expanding its existing capacity to nine mmtpa at an investment of Rs 22,594 crore, which includes a 1,398 km crude oil pipeline from Paradip to Numaligarh and a 654 km product pipeline from Numaligarh to Siliguri.
The company was set up in accordance with the provisions made in the historic Assam Accord and has been conceived as a vehicle for speedy industrial and economic development of the North Eastern region.
Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) has 61.65 per cent stake in NRL, while Oil India and Assam government have 26 per cent and 12.35 per cent holding respectively.
The present authorised capital of the company is Rs 1,000 crore and paid up capital is Rs 735.63 crore.
The company’s product range includes LPG, naphtha, motor spirit, aviation turbine fuel, superior kerosene oil, high speed diesel, raw petroleum coke, calcined petroleum coke, sulphur, wax, nitrogen, mineral turpentine oil, special boiling point spirit and liquid sulphur.