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Hope builds up for the world’s biggest oil refinery coming up in India


There’s hope for the world’s biggest oil refinery India proposes to build in Maharashtra which has been stuck in politics and protest for the past few years. A few days ago Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia agreed to set up a joint task force to fast-track the project. It came in the wake of another ambitious joint project announced during the G20 Summit, the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor.

What is the project all about?

To be set up at a cost of Rs 3 lakh crore, Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (RRPCL) is a joint venture company, formed in 2017, by the three national oil companies of India, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) with equity participation of 50:25:25. It proposes to implement an integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex on the west coast in Maharashtra. Besides fuels, the project will also develop various downstream petrochemicals to meet India’s fast-growing fuels and petrochemicals demand.

Why is it important?

The refinery and petrochemicals project will cater to the rising energy demand in India. Rising demand for oil products in India has drawn investments in the refining and fuel retailing business from Russia’s Rosneft to BP and Total in recent years. Refiners are spending billions of dollars for adding capacities to satiate India’s demand. India has the fourth largest refining capacity in the world. This will further grow by about 200 million metric tons by 2030. It will also help India establish itself as a refining hub. India already has the world’s biggest refinery at Jamnagar in Gujarat owned by Reliance Industries.

Aramco, the world’s biggest oil exporter, and Adnoc are seeking to strengthen ties with refineries in Asia to lock up market share in the region driving growth in global oil demand.

What is the problem?

While the opposition parties and protesters oppose the refinery for environmental degradation they think the refinery might cause, the government claims outsiders are creating trouble and provoking the locals and political parties are creating misunderstandings. In April, the protests intensified despite a police clampdown which led to over 100 arrests. The opposition parties have criticised the government for action against the protesters.

Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis has claimed that people from Mumbai are opposing the project. “They had opposed Aarey, Samruddhi Marg and now the refinery. I want to ask if they have taken supari?” he said.

State industries minister Uday Samant, who represents the Ratnagiri assembly seat, has said that the project was shifted from Nanar to Barsu after ex-CM Uddhav Thackeray intervened with the Centre and offered land that was unencumbered. He said it was Uddhav who suggested the new site for the project and even wrote a letter to PM Narendra Modi about it.

Thackeray has said that he had proposed the Barsu site to the Centre when he was the CM, but that did not mean it would be forced down the people without considering their views.

Of the nearly 8,000 acres proposed to be acquired, consent letters have been obtained by the collector’s office for around 3,500 acres. soil testing and other modalities for the project are gathering pace. According to an official, of the total 89 points where testing is to be conducted, 16 have been completed.

(With inputs from agencies and TOI)


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