Talks with ONGC on refinery positive: Rajasthan


Jaipur : The first round of talks between the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and the Rajasthan government on setting up of a refinery in Barmer district have ended on a positive note, the state government said Wednesday.

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"A meeting between ONGC and state government was held earlier in the week, in which ONGC has shown a positive attitude and has stressed on solving contentious issues through talks," L. N. Dave, Rajasthan's mines minister told IANS.

"We are happy with the outcome of these talks," said Dave.

Barmer, over 550 kms from the state capital, is the place where British oil exploration company Cairn has recently made oil discoveries.

The minister said that another meeting would soon be held in which major issues would be taken up for deliberations. A date for a final meeting on the issue will also be fixed then.

Officials did not disclose details of the first round of talks, but sources told IANS that both the state government and ONGC are now considering setting up a small refinery in place of the 7.5 million tonnes per annum (MMTPA) refinery as planned earlier.

Earlier, the union petroleum ministry had selected the Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL), a subsidiary of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), for establishing a 7.5 million MMTPA refinery in Barmer.

However, ONGC had dropped the idea of setting up the refinery as the company thought it was uneconomical.

After ONGC's refusal to set up the refinery over nine months back, the state government sought help from various quarters as its contention was that if the project comes up in Barmer, it would lead to the overall economic development of the district by providing employment opportunities to the local people.

Barmer is a desert district and main livelihood of the people here is animal husbandry.

After pressures from various quarters, ONGC forwarded a list of concessions and rebates to the state government saying that Rajasthan crude oil was heavy and viscous. However, the state government found the demands to be unrealistic.

Now with ONGC agreeing to hold fresh talks, hopes of having a refinery in Rajasthan have once again be revived.