After witnessing an exodus of foreign companies on grounds of restrictive regulations and policy delays, India is once again back on the radar of leading global firms.
US energy giant Chevron Corp, also the world’s third-largest oil company, has shown interest to invest in the country’s oil and gas sector, top petroleum ministry officials said.
Alongside, French energy company, Total SA, is also keen to expand its wings in India’s energy business that includes fuel retailing and solar power, official sources added.
“Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan met Chevron executives including global vice-president Jay R Pryor, senior adviser Martin Lovegrove and Deepak Kothari from Chevron’s Singapore office on Saturday, and discussed investment opportunities in India’s oil and gas sector,” the official said.
“Received a delegation led by global V-P of world oil major Chevron... good to see their interest to invest in India,” Pradhan tweeted on Saturday.
Specific investment opportunities could revolve around joint investments between Chevron and Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and its overseas subsidiary — ONGC Videsh Ltd — in oil and gas exploration in India and abroad, besides downstream joint ventures in refining and petrochemical projects.
ONGC CMD DK Sarraf and OVL’s MD NK Verma were also present in the meeting between senior Chevron brass and Pradhan.
Despite repeated attempts, Sarraf was not available for comments.
Sources in ONGC admitted to talks with Total, which is also Europe’s biggest refiner, for a fuel retailing joint venture with their oil refining and marketing subsidiary — Mangapore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL).
Total, which is already in oil lubes segment in India, and has 50 LPG stations, has been keen to expand its retail presence, officials said. MRPL, sources said, may use Total’s LPG stations to sell petrol and diesel as prices of both the fuels are de-regulated.
While Chevron exited from Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL’s) Jamnagar refining venture in 2009, the Mukesh Ambani-led company is still working with Chevron and has invested close to $2.6 billion in the Houston-based firm’s Marcellus shale acreage. in the US. RIL’s total investments in US shale gas projects stands close to $8 billion.
Companies who exited India’s energy space citing regulatory hurdles and policy paralysis include the world’s biggest miner, BHP Billiton, Australia’s Santos. Besides, other companies such as South Korea’s steel maker Posco calling it quits for its Karnataka project as well as Luxembourg-based steel producer Arcelor Mittal abandoning plans to build a steel plant in Odisha, has hit India’s image as an investment destination.