US petrochemicals sector beckons Reliance Ind

Richa Mishra
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Company looks at upstream, downstream opportunities

Enthused by its success in the US shale gas business, Reliance Industries Ltd is now exploring opportunities in refinery/petrochemicals, fertilisers, power generation and coal mining in that country.

The senior RIL management is exploring these opportunities, a company official in know of the developments said.

“Since it is still on the drawing board, the investment numbers have not yet been worked out. Basically, the intent is to see that the gas being produced in the US can be used for our own projects or to add value to the existing business,” the official said.

Investment plan

Reliance has already worked out investments of $1.5 billion annually for the next three years in the shale business there.

It has invested $ 6 billion in shale operations till the first quarter of this fiscal and produced a cumulative 183.1 billion cubic feet of gas equivalent — comprising natural gas liquid, condensate and shale gas. The company posted an 84 per cent rise in revenue from its shale gas venture in the US on rising production during the first quarter.

RIL has three joint ventures, with Chevron, Pioneer Natural Resource and Carrizo Oil & Gas, and a midstream joint venture with Pioneer for its shale business in the US.

Asked if the company would adopt the acquisition route or enter a joint venture, the official said it would depend on the opportunity.

As regards investments, the company has been raising funds in the US.

Reliance is not the only player looking at the US. Other Indian companies, such as Oil India, Indian Oil Corporation and GAIL (India) have entered the US hydrocarbon sector, while ONGC Videsh is exploring opportunities there.

Besides the shale success, another trigger for the company to look at opportunities in the US has been policy uncertainty in the domestic oil and gas upstream and downstream sectors.

India is still working on its shale gas exploration policy, while the domestic petroleum retailing business has been impacted by the artificial controls imposed by the Government on product pricing.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 1, 2013)
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