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Oil Majors Interested In Buying India’s Third-Largest Refiner BPCL

Large oil companies from the Middle East and Russia are interested in joining the bids of U.S. investment funds for buying the majority stake in India’s third-biggest oil refiner, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), from the government, the Press Trust of India reported on Thursday, citing industry sources.

The Indian government is looking to sell its entire 53-percent stake in BPCL in what could be the biggest privatization deal in the country.

Russia’s largest oil producer, state-controlled Rosneft, as well as some of the top oil firms in the Middle East, are reportedly interested in joining one of the bids submitted for BPCL from Apollo Global and I Squared Capital, PTI’s sources say.

The deadline for filing of the initial bids expired in November 2020. None of the Big Oil firms, nor any company from Russia and the Middle East had filed separate bids for buying the majority interest in BPCL by then.

But now, according to a PTI source, one of the international oil majors or an oil producing company from the Middle East could join the bids already submitted by the funds.

Apollo Global and I Squared Capital are competing with Vedanta Resources, founded by billionaire Anil Agarwal, for the majority stake in BPCL, which holds more than 14 percent of India’s oil refining capacity and 23 percent of the fuel distribution market. 

A Russian or a Middle Eastern oil firm interested in taking a major portion of the Indian refining and fuel market would make sense because Russia, as well as Saudi Arabia and other major Gulf producers, are vying for a share of the Indian oil market, which is expected to be one of the fastest growing markets in the coming decades. 

The Indian government intends to complete the privatization of BPCL this fiscal year which ends on March 31, 2022, Tuhin Kanta Pandey, Secretary of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), said earlier this month.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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