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Assam-based Numaligarh Refinery is looking at going upstream to develop marginal oilfields in the Northeast region and building a 450 km pipeline to Moreah in Manipur to help export diesel and petrol to Myanmar, a top official said on Friday.
"The government wants smaller companies to go upstream. We are seeking marginal oilfields and some concessions from the government," said P Padmanabhan, managing director at the refinery owned by state run oil refiner-marketer r Bharat Petroleum Corporation.
The move is part of the Union petroleum and natural gas ministry's ambitious plan to bring down imports of petroleum to 67% of total demand by 2022 from 77% now.
Numaligarh Refinery (NRL) is anchoring the ministry's project of preparing a hydrocarbon vision document for Northeast India.
Padmanabhan also said the firm plans to send a small quantity of petrol or diesel to Myanmar as a trial consignment to explore the possibility of exports. He said Numaligarh Refinery can export to north and central Myanmar where presently private parties are selling petrol and diesel. "I recently visited Myanmar and met the energy minister. Things have changed in Myanmar," he said.
Moreah is the border trade point between India and Myanmar.
"It's all about economics. The distance between the Tamu (Myanmar's border town next to Moreah) and Numaligarh refinery in Golaghat district is just 450 km," Padmanabhan said.
"We have included construction of the product pipeline in the vision document," he said. "We can also link the pipeline to Mizoram and Nagaland. Government has assured us that it will subsidise the cost of pipeline."
Padmanabhan said NRL had tried exporting petrol to Myanmar during the army rule there, but it did not work out because they couldn't trade in dollars. "Now Myanmar is witnessing lot of positive changes," he said.
The NRL board has already cleared a project to increase its refining capacity to 9 million metric tonnes per annum from 3 mmtpa now. Bharat Petroleum's board will examine the proposal, which will require investment of Rs 20,000 crore, on July 14.
"Once cleared by Bharat Petroleum board we will move government. The expansion will take four years to complete," Padmanabhan said. After the expansion, the refinery will process imported crude oil too, which is envisaged to be transported from a port in East India to Numaligarh through a new pipeline.
NRL is also exploring the possibility of setting up a bio-refinery in Assam to produce ethanol using non-food biomass resources like bamboo. It has already inked agreements with governments of Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh for sourcing bamboos for this venture where it plans to invest about Rs 1,000 crore.
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