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Petronet in talks to buy stake in GSPC’s Mundra LNG terminal

LiveMint logoLiveMint 21-06-2017 PTI

New Delhi: Petronet LNG Ltd, India’s biggest importer of liquid gas, is in talks to buy 25% stake in Gujarat State Petroleum Corp.’s (GSPC) almost complete Rs4,500 crore Mundra LNG import terminal in Gujarat.

The 5-million tonne a year import terminal, the third facility in Gujarat for import of natural gas in its liquid form in ships, is nearing completion and GSPC is keen to shed some of its stakes to lighten its debt burden.

GSPC first offered its 50% stake in the project to state refiner Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), but the company was willing to take no more than 25-26%. So now, GSPC is talking to Petronet for selling 25% stake, people privy to the development said.

The Adani group holds 25% interest in the LNG import terminal. GSPC LNG, a unit of GSPC, will hold 25% stake, similar to IOC and Petronet once the deal concludes, they said.

While Petronet LNG CEO and managing director Prabhat Singh did not respond to calls made for comments, GSPC could not be immediately reached for comments.

With a view to expanding its gas business, IOC is keen to buy a stake in the Mundra terminal. Petronet, too, is keen to raise its import capacity. Petronet operates a 15 metric tonne a year LNG import facility at Dahej in Gujarat and has another 5-mt a year terminal at Kochi in Kerala.

IOC, the country’s largest oil company, is building a 5- mt a year LNG import terminal at Ennore in Tamil Nadu by 2018 -end. Besides the Dahej liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facility of Petronet, Gujarat has another 5 mt terminal of Shell at Hazira.

Initially, GSPC was to hold 50% stake in the Mundra LNG terminal and Adani 25%. The remaining 25% was to be offered to a strategic partner. IOC as also India Gas Solutions Pvt. Ltd—the equal JV between the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries and Europe’s second-largest oil firm BP—and state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC) were short-listed to pick 25% stake earmarked for the strategic partner in the project.

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Initially, eight firms, including state gas utility GAIL India, had expressed interest in buying the stake, but only three were finalised. People privy to the development said GSPC has now rejigged the entire stake sale, by offering half of its stake to IOC and another 25% to Petronet.

GSPC is looking at a partner which can bring in LNG or consume the imported liquid gas, people said. The Mundra terminal, which is to be financed with a debt to equity ratio of 70:30, is expandable up to 10 mt per annum in the near future.

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