Russia's Rosneft has big plans for Indian fuel retail: Pradhan

Union minister for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday said Russia's oil industry leader Rosneft is looking to venture into the Indian retail fuel sector in a big way.

"Rosneft, the Russian oil major, who recently took over Essar Oil, is planning in a big way to tap retail fuel market in India,'' Pradhan told the media after the inauguration of the City Gas Distribution Project to supply eco-friendly natural gas to households, industries and the transport sector in Bengaluru.

The company is expected to get a 49-per cent stake in Essar Oil, which the company is looking to use to expand its global footprint. The $12.9-billion deal is projected to be implemented by July 2017, and will be the largest acquisition by a foreign firm in the Indian market.

Speaking about the City Gas Distribution Project, Pradhan said the project would entail an investment of Rs6,283 crore, and would be implemented across India's technology hub by GAIL India Ltd.

The project would cover 4,395 sq km in urban and rural Bengaluru, broadly covering eight sectors - Nelamangala, Dod Ballapur, Devanahalli, Hosakote, Bengaluru East, Bengaluru North, Bengaluru South and Anekal, he said.

The project will provide economical, environment friendly, uninterrupted, safe and convenient energy to 106.12 lakh residents of Bengaluru by supplying Piped Natural Gas (PNG) for households, industries and commercial units, Pradhan said.

"This will significantly add to people's convenience as there will be no hassles of booking, advance payment, storage, handling of heavy weight cylinders and monitoring of cylinder delivery. Billing will be done once in two months based on consumption," he added. Moreover, with the setting up of 60 compressed natural gas stations, the project would provide cheaper fuel for the transport sector and also facilitate a healthy lifestyle by creating a pollution-free environment, Pradhan said.

Pradhan stressed the importance of natural gas, and said the city would be connected with clean fuel for the domestic and transport sector.

Three days back, Reliance Industries and its partner BP plc had announced investment of $6 billion in developing new gas fields in the KG-D6 block after an eight-year hiatus.

Asked about the size of investment to be made by Rosneft and Essar to tap the fuel retailing market, Pradhan said both companies had invested $13 billion in Indian market in the last fiscal.

"This was one of the biggest deals in the oil industry in the world," he added. In the beginning of the second quarter of this year, BP and RIL had announced more than $6 billion investment in India, Pradhan said.