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ONGC, Bharat Petro to shed 5600 jobs

Osaka, Sept. 21 (Agencies): India expects to cut as many as 5,600 jobs at state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation to boost efficiency as it opens the country’s oil market to competition.

India plans to reduce workers at ONGC, India’s biggest oil producer, by as much as 5,000 from 38,000, petroleum minister Ram Naik said here.

BPCL will shed as many as 600 of its 11,000 workers, he said. “This will help both the companies to become competitive and more streamlined in their operations,” Naik said.

The Cabinet, earlier this week, had decided to postpone voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) for the two PSUs. The two companies will now re-submit improved VRS proposals.

Naik said the government expects to make a decision on the sale of the state-owned refiners Hindustan Petroleum and BPCL in the next three months.

The Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment (CCD) had postponed privatisation decision on BPCL and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) due to lack of consensus among the Cabinet ministers.

Naik said the government expects to sign an agreement to invest $ 750 million in an oil field in Sudan that will give India an additional 3 million tonnes of oil a year.

“It is in the final stages, we’ll sign an agreement as soon as the formalities are over,” he said.

The government is also in talks with Iraq, Iran and Myanmar to secure stakes in oil and gas fields, Naik said.

Crude price

India today sought concessional pricing of crude oil and liberal credit terms for developing countries to offset the spurt in global crude prices.

“In a high price scenario, there is a need for oil producers to extend concessional pricing and liberal credit terms to developing countries,” Naik said in his address to the 8th International Energy Forum here.

Discussions at the meeting, which bring together oil producing and major consuming countries, focused on current international issues like price volatility, limited transparency and reliability of data as well as long-term energy situation.

Naik said the oil markets were in turmoil as the Opec quota had fallen from about 5 million barrels per day between 1998 and 2002 while oil demand during the corresponding period has grown by 2.5 million barrels per day.

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