Qatar Petroleum keen on buying 5.2% stake in Petronet

Qatar Petroleum has expressed interest in buying a 5.2 per cent stake in Petronet LNG Ltd, potentially a conflict of interest proposition as it would give the gas supplier a vantage position in India's largest fuel importer.

Qatar Petroleum, the country's state-run energy firm, has majority stakes in RasGas and QatarGas that along with other liquefied natural gas suppliers in the world compete to sell fuel to India.

If Qatar Petroleum (QP) picks up 5.2 per cent stake as well as board position in Petronet, it will give the company an undue advantage over other suppliers as it will be privy to price and other negotiations, sources in Petronet's promoter firms said.

This will possibly be the first instance of a LNG supplier picking up stake in an importing firm.

Sources said Asian Development Bank (ADB) wants to sell its 5.2 per cent stake in Petronet since last year.

Petronet, which is registered as a private company even though public sector oil firms hold 50 per cent stake and the oil ministry secretary is its chairman, has approached QP's 100 per cent subsidiary Qatar Petroleum Int. offering ADB's stake.

The PSUs (Indian Oil, ONGC, Bharat Petroleum and GAIL India) had previously evinced interest in buying the ADB stake but the oil ministry blocked the move as it would have turned Petronet into a public sector company. It was then offered to Qatar Petroleum International.

RasGas, in which QP holds 70 per cent stake, supplies 7.5 million tonnes of LNG on a long-term contract to Petronet. It remains a potential supplier for the new terminals that Petronet is building at Kochi and east coast and a board position may give it an undue advantage, they said.

Sources said Qatar Petroleum getting stake is like a vendor picking up a board position in a company that gives out contracts.

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