India’s government is considering launching talks to merge 13 state-held oil companies into one giant conglomerate that could rival some of the industry’s global giants, India’s Economic Times reported on Monday, citing sources in the know.
India’s Cabinet Secretariat has tabled the idea to the oil ministry which has started assessing the prospects of a mega-merger, the ET said, adding that the oil ministry had declined to comment on the report.
The country’s biggest oil producer, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), as well as Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum, GAIL, Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals (MRPL), Chennai Petroleum, Numaligarh Refinery, and Oil India, are said to be subject of the merger idea, according to ET.
The government is also mulling over whether it could include the non-corporate government bodies Oil Industry Development Board (OIDB), Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) and Petroleum Conservation Research Association in the giant oil group.
The cabinet plans to hold talks with all stakeholders, including the state-run companies, ET’s sources said.
Should a merger really take place, the Indian oil giant would be able to compete with the likes of Rosneft and BP on terms of size.
Back in 2005, India was also mulling over a huge oil merger. A panel appointed by the government then advised against the idea, arguing that monopoly would hurt competition and smaller specialized firms were generally doing better.
Now, Indian firms are buying into Russian oil fields. Last week, ONGC issued bonds to fund the acquisition of a 15-percent stake in the giant Vankor field in Russia. ONGC was the first Indian company to sign an agreement with Rosneft to buy into Vankor. Another three Indian firms - Bharat Petroleum, Indian Oil Corp, and Oil India - joined the party last month, when they signed a sales purchase agreement with the Russian side for the acquisition of 23.9 percent in the field.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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