BPCL to build new refinery; India eyes oil deals with Russia and others: Puri

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New Delhi, Jun 11 (PTI) State-owned Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) is looking to build a new oil refinery to meet the rising demand for fuels like petrol and diesel, Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said Tuesday as he took charge of the ministry for the second time.

Listing his priorities in the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government's third term, he said finding and producing more oil and gas to cut India's import reliance, green hydrogen, natural gas and refining and petrochemicals will be top priorities.

The government has in recent years ensured "availability, affordability and sustainability" of energy to citizens, he said. "We have performed well." And this will be the mantra in Modi 3.0 as well, he said.

Spelling details of his priorities, Puri said attracting investors to oil and gas exploration and production in the ongoing bid rounds as well as in unique tenders like the one floated by ONGC seeking a foreign partner for raising output at one of India's old fields, Mumbai High, will be high on agenda.

Also, the push towards producing and increasing usage of green hydrogen, an alternative to fossil fuels that has zero emissions, will continue, he said, adding use of biofuels would also be encouraged.

On securing supplies of crude oil, which is refined into fuels like petrol and diesel, he said India has diversified its sources of supplies including from Russia.

From buying less than a percentage of its total imports, India emerged as the biggest buyer of Russian sea-borne oil, snapping up barrels sold at a discount as some Western nations halted purchases after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

"We are a longstanding partner of the Russian federation. We have had discussion with the Russians on long-term deals," he said. "I am confident that both our private and public sector players will sign long-term deals with countries where they see benefit in doing so." He said BPCL is looking to build its fourth oil refinery in the country.

"The details are being worked out," he said.

BPCL operates refineries at Mumbai, Kochi in Kerala, and Bina in Madhya Pradesh. It is aiming to raise capacity to refined crude oil from 39 million tonnes per annum to 45 million tonnes and the new refinery is part of that plan.

The refinery is besides the one that Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is building near Chennai, he said.

Puri said oil production from ONGC's eastern offshore KG-DWN-98/2 block will increase to 45,000 barrels per day "very soon" and gas production "will also start soon".

Earlier in the day, Suresh Gopi, the lone MP from the ruling BJP from Kerala, took charge as the Minister of State for the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Puri was present when Gopi took charge. PTI ANZ HVA