TCG mulls shifting project from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu on land delays

By: | Published: August 28, 2018 4:22 AM

Purnendu Chatterjee-controlled the Chatterjee Group (TCG), which runs Haldia Petrochemicals and Mitsubishi Chemicals in Haldia, is planning to set up a refinery in Tamil Nadu.

Purnendu Chatterjee

In what could be a blow to West Bengal, the Purnendu Chatterjee-controlled the Chatterjee Group (TCG), which runs Haldia Petrochemicals and Mitsubishi Chemicals in Haldia, is planning to set up a refinery in Tamil Nadu. The refinery was originally planned as a backward integration project in Haldia, adjacent to the petrochemical project.

Chatterjee said the company would set up a 15 million tonne per annum refinery in the state at an estimated investment of Rs 20,000 crore, and is looking to acquire 1,500 acres. While state finance, commerce and industry minister Amit Mitra confirmed that land has already been earmarked and an agreement on implementing the project has been signed with the TCG in 2016, so far nothing has been done regarding transfer of land, a source close to the development said.

The source told FE that the government had found that the earmarked land has been transferred in some other name and so it wouldn’t be able to provide TCG the said land.

In such a circumstance, HPL has planned shifting its project to Tamil Nadu, where it is eyeing the assets of stressed Nagarjuna Oil Refinery at Cuddalore, which is already put to liquidation.

Although Chatterjee didn’t want to make any comment specifically on the project, he said the group has been facing hurdles in doing business in the state.

“The West Bengal government took an advance from the HPL for the land and they were supposed to transfer it. But it is queer to learn that the land is not found now and the matter has been referred to Suvendhu Adhikary, chairman of the Haldia Development Authority (HDA), who is equally reluctant to arrange a land for the refinery,” the HPL source said.

While Adhikary couldn’t be contacted for a comment, former HDA chairman Lakshman Seth said the land had been earmarked by the former state government when the project was conceived.

Nagarjuna Oil, a project of Nagrajuna Fertiliser and Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation, was referred to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) last year.

While four companies — Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), Citax Ventures, Gulf Petrochem and Haldia Petrochemicals — had bid for the project, the committee of creditors (CoC) could select none since the bid value was lower than the Rs 1,450 crore set as a valuation for liquidation.

Nagrajuna has a secured debt of Rs 8,000 crore and an unsecured debt of Rs 800 crore.

However, the Chennai bench of the NCLT has put Nagrajuna Oil to liquidation, on which HPL has set its eye.

Nagarjuna Oil planned setting up a 6 mtpa refinery at an estimated investment of Rs 8,000 crore.

Although the project was planned in two phases and the first phase included relocating Germany’s Mobil’s Woerth refinery, the project had to be stalled after more than 60% completion following a devastating flood that had badly hit the site.

The source close to the development said the available land in the Nagarjuna Oil project is 2,180 acres and there are crude distillation and vacuum distillation units already installed.

Setting up a hydro desulphurisation unit, fluid catalytic cracking and diesel hydrodesulphurisation units were already in progress and port infrastructure for handling crude and finished product was a part of the project.

While the ongoing port infrastructure work has been affected by the floods, the other constructed and partially constructed units are intact, which could be an advantage to HPL in setting up the refinery.

HPL would tap a part of the Saudi Crude, which would be reserved underground at the Bay of Bengal.

The refinery would supply its raw material, naptha for HPL, at present sourced from Indian Oil’s Haldia Refinery.

“The Tamil Nadu government has claimed a stake in the project and talks in these regards are on with HPL,” the source said.

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