GAIL-RIL JV looks at Qatar for petrochemical plant

Looking to set up a $1.3-billion mega petrochemical plant in a petroleum-rich country, state-owned GAIL India Ltd along with Reliance Industries Ltd has sought assured natural gas supplies from Qatar to set up the plant.

"We are in discussions with Qatar for setting up a petrochemical plant. We need assured feedstock," GAIL chairman and managing director B C Tripathi told newspersons on the sidelines of the 6th Asia Gas Partnership Summit in New Delhi on Saturday.

GAIL had last year held preliminary discussions with Qatar Petrochemical Co (Qapco) and would now discuss the project in more detail. "So far, they have not committed anything," Tripathi said.

RIL and GAIL had on 4 December 2007 signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly set up a 1.9-million-tonne petrochemical plant. They had then zeroed in on Qatar, Iran, Algeria, Nigeria and Russia. The two are looking at countries that can provide natural gas as feedstock for the unit.

GAIL and Reliance intend to float a special purpose vehicle with equal stake to set up the overseas petrochemical plant.

The state-owned firm has also shown interest in setting up a petrochemical unit in Iran and would soon open up discussions with the National Petrochemical Company of Iran, Tripathi said.

Reliance and GAIL believe that there is a huge demand for petrochemical products worldwide. This would need new capacities, and hence they are exploring opportunities for setting up global size petrochemical complexes, preferably gas-based, in gas-rich countries.