Billionaire Lakshmi N. Mittal on Saturday said capacity of his first downstream oil venture here will be doubled to 18 million tonne in future.

Speaking at the formal opening of the Rs. 21,500 crore Guru Gobind Singh Refinery here, Mr. Mittal said the 9 million tonne a year unit will help in energy security of the country and make Punjab a petrochemical hub.

“The capacity of the refinery can be increased to 18 million tonne per annum in future,” he said at the function where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh formally dedicated the unit to the nation.

The refinery is the first investment in downstream oil sector by Mittal, Chairman of ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker. Mittal Energy has a venture with state-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC), which has offshore oil exploration blocks in Nigeria.

Mr. Mittal said the refinery will feed fuel into deficit markets of northern India.

HPCL Mittal Energy Ltd, a joint venture of Mittal’s Mittal Energy Investments and state-owned Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) was built in 42 months.

HPCL and Mittal Energy Investment Pte Ltd, Singapore — a Lakshmi Mittal Group company, hold 49 per cent stake each in HEML, while 2 per cent is held by financial institutions.

The refinery has high Nelson Complexity Index which will enable maximising value-added products even from heavy/sour crudes. Crude oil to the refinery is to be ferried through a 1,014 km pipeline from Mundra in Gujarat where the oil is imported from abroad.

The new unit has raised the total oil refining capacity in the country to 213 million tonne per annum, from 198.886 million tonne.

Start-up of Bhatinda refinery will help boost India’s exports and may open fuel sales to Pakistan.

Pakistan allows imports of fuels including petrol and diesel from India, after removing non—tariff barriers on November 2. The distance between Bathinda and Lahore is about 100 miles.

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