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Hind Petro not to exit MRPL

Mumbai, Aug. 29: Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) is likely to retain its stake in Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) as it is anxious about the state of future supplies of petro products from the latter’s refinery.

This should come as a disappointment to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), which, according to reports, has sent feelers to HPCL for the purchase of its stake in MRPL.

The possibility of HPCL hanging on to its shareholding in the refinery project was indicated here yesterday by HPCL chairman and managing director M. B. Lal.

Speaking to newspersons in his first major interaction after taking over as chairman, Lal made these remarks when asked to comment on statements by the ONGC top brass led by Subir Raha who said feelers have been sent to HPCL for buying its stake in MRPL.

In fact, Lal, while pointing out that the company has not yet received any formal proposal from ONGC, stressed on the benefits that would accrue to the corporation if it held on to its stake in MRPL. The nine-million tonne refinery supplies HPCL with petro products close to 3.5 million tonnes. In this regard, he said that after ONGC finishes the formalities of buying the AV Birla group’s stake, HPCL would ensure that product availability from MRPL is not affected. HPCL, he said, is entitled to these products as long as it holds on to its stake.

The HPCL chief also defended the company’s Bhatinda project while not ruling out the possibility of the corporation tapping capital markets next year for part-financing this project.

Lal said the total capital expenditure plan for the year is around Rs 1,000 crore, of which close to Rs 200 crore will go into upgrading retail outlets. He further added that the company’s recent introductions of ‘Turbojet’ and ‘Power,’ premium brands of diesel and petrol respectively, have been a roaring success.

He said that in times when refining margins are shrinking, the corporation managed to post higher margins for its Mumbai and Vizag refinery, where it rose to $ 4 per barrel in the June quarter this year.

Earlier, speaking to shareholders at the company’s 50th annual general meeting, he said the company will appoint more distributors to strengthen its retail outlets. HPCL has initiated various measures to focus more on the retail business line, providing value added services, facilities like ATMs, convenience stories, communication facilities among others.

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