Reliance Industries-BP combine is leading the race for picking up 25 per cent stake in Gujarat government’s planned LNG import terminal at Mundra, officials said on Monday.

India Gas Solutions Pvt Ltd — the equal joint venture between the Mukesh Ambani-led firm and Europe’s second largest oil firm — is among the three companies shortlisted by Gujarat government for giving out 25 per cent stake in the Mundra terminal.

State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) are the other two firms shortlisted, officials said on the sidelines of 8th Asia Gas Partnership Summit here.

Initially 8 firms including state gas utility GAIL India had expressed interest to buy 25 per cent stake in the 5 million tonnes a year liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal being planned by the state government owned Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GSPC).

The official said GSPC is likely to finalise the partner in next few days.

“Essentially, GSPC is looking at a partner which can bring in LNG, can consume the imported liquid gas as well and market the fuel,” he said adding RIL-BP fits the bill perfectly.

BP is a producer and trader of LNG while RIL’s twin refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat as well as its large petrochemical plants are huge consumers of gas. The duo are also marketers of gas in the country.

IOC and ONGC, on the other hand, are only consumers of the fuel.

Experts wonder why GAIL was left out because it unlike RIL has experience of operating LNG terminal and is owner of majority of the nation’s gas pipeline network. GAIL, which has aggressively tied up LNG supplies from US to Russia, is the biggest marketer of gas in the country.

Besides the three, other firms which had expressed interest included Petronet LNG Ltd, Torrent Energy, Japan’s Mitsui & Co and Toyota Tsusho, the official said.

GSPC would hold 50 per cent stake in the Rs. 5,200 crore project while Adani Group would take 25 per cent.

The project is to be financed in a debt to equity ratio of 70:30.

The terminal capacity would be expandable upto 10 million tonnes per annum.

Sources said most of the companies that have expressed interest, want to import their own liquid gas (LNG) and sell it to consumers in the vastly energy deficit country.

GSPC has been scouting for a strategic investor for its LNG project, after Essar group — the third partner with a 25 per cent stake in the venture — exited from the terminal.

The LNG terminal will have two LNG storage tanks. It will have LNG receiving, re-gasification and gas evacuation facilities.

GSPC has awarded the front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract to Tractebel of Belgium.

Mundra will be the third LNG import terminal in Gujarat, after Petronet’s 10 million tonnes per annum capacity facility at Dahej and Shell’s 5 million tonnes Hazira LNG terminal.

The terminal is expected to go on stream by first quarter of 2016, sources said.

Gujarat is mulling another LNG terminal at Pipavav of 2.5 to 5 million tonnes capacity.

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