Promising interest-free loans and equity participation by state-run agencies, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has once again pushed for the setting up of an oil refinery in Barmer.
Gehlot, in a recent letter to petroleum minister Murli Deora, has stated that Rajasthan has discovered substantial reserves of crude oil and natural gas after sustained efforts of 50 years.
Private and public sector companies such as Cairn India and ONGC have established crude oil reserves of 480 million tonnes in Barmer district and commercial production of crude oil also commenced on August 29, 2009.
“In view of these discoveries, people of Rajasthan have legitimate aspirations for refinery in Barmer district. This demand was articulated by the people of Rajasthan during visits of Chairperson, UPA, Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,” Gehlot told Deora.
“I would also like to add that Rajasthan is the only major state, except Jammu & Kashmir, without a refinery.”
According to Gehlot, state-run ONGC should be asked to set up a refinery as the main promoter with a marketing
tie-up with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).
Alternatively, he said, HPCL or IOC should be asked to set up the refinery. “These PSUs have an additional advantage in that their crude and product pipelines pass through Barmer and Jalore districts,” he added.
Gehlot reminded Deora that in 2005, the petroleum ministry had approved ONGC’s plan to set up a refinery in Barmer and a decision was also taken at a meeting of the Board of ONGC’s refining subsidiary — Mangalore Refinery Pvt. Ltd.
However, he said the refinery project could not see the light of day because concessions were not given by the then (BJP-run) state government.