View of an oil refinery in operation. (Photographer: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg)

Ratnagiri Refinery To Be Commissioned By 2025, CEO Says

Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. expects to commission its $44-billion mega project on schedule despite strong opposition from local farmers.

"The physical construction in terms of the plan will be started by January 2021 and we should be able to commission the project by 2025," B Ashok, chief executive officer at RRPCL told BloombergQuint in an interview. "We are pretty confident that land will be made available to us and recently, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also made an announcement and some of the roadblocks have been removed.”

Opposition from farmers prompted Maharashtra CM to move the location for what would be the country's biggest oil refinery. The mega refinery, announced in 2016, is facing protests from locals who refused to hand over land fearing damage to farming in the region famous for its Alphonso mangoes and cashew plantations.

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RRPCL, which had asked for 15,000-acres of coastal land in Maharashtra, received an assurance from the state government that the coastal land will be made available within due time, said Ashok. “We should be able to sustain our commissioning targets."

State-run refiners Indian Oil Corporation Ltd., Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. own 50 percent stake in the venture, with the remaining part held by Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. The refinery is aimed at giving India steady fuel supplies while meeting Saudi Arabia's need to secure regular buyers for its oil.

Saudi Aramco, too, is hopeful of catching up in case of any delay. "We remain positive on our investment in India...We are very optimistic that things are going well. I think if there is any delay, we will catch up," Amin H. Naseer, CEO at Saudi Aramco said at the sidelines of an event in New Delhi. “We are working with our partners who are assuring us that things are progressing well.”

“We are looking at other opportunities like Reliance Industries Ltd. in India and not restricted to one project only,” he said, adding there is a lot of growth potential in India.