India to monetise half its strategic petroleum reserves

India has decided to commercialise half of its current strategic petroleum reserves (SPRs) as the nation looks to enhance private participation in the building of new storage facilities, claims a report from Reuters.

The shift in policy was approved this month by the union cabinet. Allowing commercialisation of SPRs mirrors a model adopted by countries such as Japan and South Korea which allow private lessees, mostly oil majors, to re-export crude.

India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, imports over 80% of its oil needs and has built strategic storage at three locations in southern India to store up to 5 million tonnes of oil to protect against supply disruption.

Private entities taking storage on lease will be allowed to re-export 1.5 million tonnes of oil stored in the caverns in the case of Indian companies refusing to buy the crude. Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd, a company charged with building of SPRs, will be allowed to sell 1 million tonnes of crude to local buyers, it is learnt.

So far Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) has leased 750,000 tonnes of oil storage in the 1.5-million-tonne Mangalore SPR. Last year India allowed ADNOC to export half of its oil in Mangalore SPRs as the middle eastern oil major found it difficult to sell oil to Indian refiners.

India also plans to build strategic storage at Chandikhol in Odisha and Padur in Karnataka for around 6.5 million tonnes of crude to provide an additional cover of 12 days of net oil imports. The cabinet earlier this month also decided to provide up to Rs.8,000 crore of financial support, equivalent to about 60 per cent of the estimated cost, for building two new SPRs.

ISPRL will soon float an initial tender for building the new reserves.

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