Mauritius, MRPL in talks for $2bn oil refinery

Port Louis: The Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius is in talks with India's Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) about the construction of a $2 billion oil refinery that could be operational by 2015. Such a project could benefit local consumers with lower prices for oil products, a minister said on Monday.

Location of Mauritius"This $2 billion dollar oil refinery project may be operational in four years. It would be partly financed by the Mauritian government and Mangalore Refinery," trade and industry minister Shawkutally Soodhun told agencies.

The proposed refinery would process crude oil from Africa before sending refined products on to India.

"There is a possibility that India use Mauritius as a hub to refine its oil and we would benefit in terms of cheaper oil prices," Soodhun said.

Soodhun remarked that India was increasingly becoming a strategic partner for oil producers in Africa and would likely continue importing greater amounts of crude from there.

The global crisis of 2008 affected Mauritius with double digit inflation as surging oil prices and food costs underlined the vulnerability of the island nation's economy to external factors.