Ruling out the possibility of entering the power and petroleum retailing businesses, Vedanta chairman Anil Agarwal on Monday said it wanted to explore the oil and gas business in a big way. The company, he said, will be investing around $4 billion in this sector over the next two years.
“There will a strong demand for fuel as the global economy will continue to grow. As the largest private sector oil producer, we want to meet 50 per cent of the oil requirement, from 27 per cent now,” said Agarwal, who was here to attend the Make in Odisha Conclave.
The conglomerate will invest about Rs 30,000 crore over three years to raise production of its flagship Barmer field in Rajasthan to 4,50,000 barrels per day (bpd). The oil output from the block, he said, would rise to more than 300,000 bpd next year from 160,000 bpd in FY17.
Stressing that the country should purely focus on crude production, Agarwal said India needed to ease policies further to attract international players to exploration. “Foreign majors usually shy away because they don’t get fair prices. They will come only when they get international prices,” he noted. India currently spends $125 billion on oil imports, which account for 80 per cent of its oil needs as local output has stagnated for years, said the chairman.
To augment the alumina refinery capacity at Lanjigarh three-fold to six million tonnes per annum, Vedanta plans to invest an additional Rs 15,000 crore by 2021. Although the company has invested Rs 50,000 crore in the state so far, the company’s net PAT from operation is negative at 12,000 crore due to non-availability of raw materials.
“While government companies get 100 per cent coal, private entities are given only 25 per cent or 10 million tonnes which makes it tough to run in a viable manner,” he said. Seeking policy intervention, Agarwal said, an increase of just 10 per cent in coal share will support the private sector. Calling the mechanism “discriminatory”, Agarwal pointed out that the captive power plants set up in the state were starved of coal.