Talks on for sale of Petronet stake to Qatar: Ahamed

Mumbai: Talks on the sale of a 10-per cent stake in Petronet LNG to Qatar are at a "very advanced stage", minister of state for external affairs E Ahamed said. Qatar is likely to pick up the stake through the Qatar Investment Authority by subscribing to a $100 million foreign currency convertible bond issue, he said.

Petronet had signed a 25-year contract with Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Company (RasGas) for 7.5-million tonnes per annum of LNG in 1999. Petronet had offered Qatar a 10-per cent stake in 2003 when it floated an initial public offer, he pointed out.

He, however, said it is too early to say anything on the possibility of Qatar picking up a 40 per cent stake in a National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) plant in Kerala. NTPC runs a 350 MW gas-fired power plant in Kerala and proposes to expand it to 1,950 MW by 2010-2011.

He said there is great possibility of Indian companies investing in the Gulf countries, especially Qatar. The Tata group, he said, had already explored the possibility of setting up an industrial chemicals unit and has also signed an agreement to set up a resort around the golf course with Qatar National Hotels Company.

A premier company formed by government of India to set up LNG terminals in the country, Petronet LNG is a joint venture promoted by GAIL (India), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited, Indian Oil Corporation Limited and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited with authorised capital of Rs1,200 crore.

These four PSU oil companies together hold 50 per cent stake in the company. GDF International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gaz De France, the French National Gas Company, ADB and the public hold 10 per cent, 5.2 per cent and 34.8 per cent respectively of the remaining equity.