NEW DELHI: The government will sell a stake in state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) this fiscal even though falling global oil prices pose a challenge, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said today.
Government was to sell 5 per cent of its stake in the country's biggest oil and gas producer ONGC to raise Rs 17,000-18,000 crore.
But the double impact of tumbling global oil prices and the rising subsidy burden has left the ONGC stock battered. Its share has slipped from Rs 472 in June last year to Rs 352.90 (at 1215 hrs today). At current price, the government will get about Rs 15,000 crore.
"We will factor in market conditions before disinvestment," Pradhan told reporters on the sidelines of the India Energy Congress here.
Pradhan said stake sale in ONGC was very much on the list of disinvestment candidates for current fiscal.
While slumping oil prices make prospects of stake sale in ONGC grimmer, the government has lined-up four other state-run firms – Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL), National Aluminium (Nalco), and Dredging Corporation (DCIL) for disinvestment this fiscal.
It plans to sell a 10 per cent stake in IOC as well as Nalco, and 5 per cent stake each in BHEL and DCIL.
The government, Pradhan said, was reworking the subsidy sharing formula. "The oil price pose a challenge (for ONGC)," he said.
Upstream oil producers ONGC and Oil India Ltd made good nearly half of the revenue loss or under-recoveries that fuel retailers incurred on selling cooking fuel at government controlled rates.
This subsidy contribution is by way of discount on crude oil they sold to the downstream firms and it was capped at USD 56 per barrel in 2013.
But with global oil prices tumbling to five year low of less than USD 50 per barrel, 2009, the continuation of the subsidy-sharing formula for remaining period of this fiscal would mean that ONGC will not just have to sell crude oil to refiners like IOC for free but also pay another USD 6 per barrel from its pocket.
In such a scenario, the government is considering exempting ONGC and OIL from payment of subsidy during reminder of the current fiscal, sources said.
Subsidy burden on upstream oil companies has increased from Rs 32,000 crore or 30 per cent of the total under- recovery in 2008-09 to Rs 67,021 crore (48 per cent of the total under-recovery) in 2013-14.
In 2013-14, ONGC paid a record Rs 56,384 crore subsidy.
Under-recoveries during current fiscal are pegged at around Rs 73,000 crore.
Of this, about Rs 51,000 crore have already been accounted for in first half where ONGC paid Rs 26,841 crore subsidy, OIL Rs 4,085 crore and GAIL Rs 1,000 crore.
Government provided cash subsidy to cover the rest of it.
For the remainder of the fiscal, another Rs 21,000-22,000 crore of under-recoveries are estimated.