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ONGC plans N-plants

ONGC has chalked out plans to enter the nuclear power space, in a diversification from its decades-old specialisation in petroleum exploration to which it has already added gas-based power generation.

business Updated: Nov 02, 2009 21:41 IST
Anupama Airy

Public sector behemoth Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India (ONGC) has chalked out plans to enter the nuclear power space, in a diversification from its decades-old specialisation in petroleum exploration to which it has already added gas-based power generation.

ONGC, which last year announced plans to enter uranium mining, is now seriously exploring the possibility of setting up nuclear power plants in the country.

As the entry of private sector players is yet not allowed in the nuclear generation space, ONGC is planning to make use of its public utility status to diversify into the business.

ONGC’s chairman and managing director, RS Sharma told the Hindustan Times that the company is serious about entering the field of nuclear power generation and has already held a few round of

discussions with the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Anil Kakodkar, on the issue.

Cash-rich ONGC will need outside partnerships to drive its new initiative. Speaking on possible collaborations or tie-ups, Sharma said, “Nothing has been decided on this front. We will discuss a business plan in this regard at the company’s strategy meeting shortly.”

ONGC, in an attempt to break new ground, had entered gas-based power generation. The nuclear energy drive is part of its long-term plan to emerge as an integrated energy company.

Last year, ONGC announced a tie-up with Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) to jointly undertake operations to extract uranium in India. UCIL is the only entity allowed to undertake uranium mining in India and has the power to allot mining leases to others such as ONGC.

For ONGC, uranium mining is a natural extension of its operations as this is similar to onshore exploration of oil

and gas. Another factor prompting companies like ONGC and private sector Reliance Industries is the opportunity in taking advantage of high uranium prices in the international market.

India has 17 nuclear power plants with a capacity of 4,120 megawatts. Three plants with a capacity of 2,660 MW

are expected to be commissioned by March 2010. State-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India is currently the only company producing nuclear power in India.