MUMBAI: Brushing aside queries on political instability in the state and growing protests against projects, the Tamil Nadu government is going full steam ahead in securing commitments for its ambitious second Global Investors Meet to be held in January, 2019. According to a senior official from the state government, a middle eastern refiner is already in talks with it to set up a massive east-coast refinery in the state.
Investors are keen on coastal refineries as they help in logistics with India importing majority of its crude oil requirement. Given the confidentiality of negotiations, he refused to divulge either the capacity of the refinery planned or the name of the middle eastern partner the government is in dialogue with.
With surplus refining capacity, new refineries would also be looking at the convenience of shipping refined products to potential Asian consumers. India had long scouted for global investors to partner in its refinery projects, but with limited results. But, the proposed west coast refinery has scored a big success with Saudi Aramco, and UAE’s Adnoc committing to pick up a stake in the refinery.
A mega refinery on the west coast, and another on the east coast with yet another Middle Eastern partner have the scope to turn India into a refining hub that it is aiming to be. The Tamil Nadu government is also holding a series of roadshows to attract such investors, like the one industries minister M C Sampath held with a handful of senior officials in Mumbai on Friday. The minister held marathon meetings with big names in India Inc, while addressing a gathering of potential investors.
The previous summit in 2015 saw `2,42,000 crore worth of projects committed, of which `62,000 crore have been realized so far. This is an “impressive conversion rate compared to national average,” said M Vel Murugan, executive vice chairman, Investment Promotion Industrial Guidance & Export Promotion Bureau. Many things have since then have only improved and in the case in point is the passing of the Business Facilitation Act, improving the ease of doing business, he added.
But, do industries feel threatened by the continued agitation over projects in the state? “Sterlite issue is sub-judice. It cannot be considered a general trend in Tamil Nadu…Ennore is stray activism. In our experience this is not affecting investments. Investors don’t consider that a fear factor,” said Murugan.