By Nidhi Verma, Aftab Ahmed and Vladimir Soldatkin
NEW DELHI/MOSCOW, Sept 29 (Reuters) – Rosneft and Saudi Aramco are unlikely to bid in the privatisation of Indian refiner Bharat Petroleum Corp BPCL.NS, sources familiar with the matter said, as low oil prices and weak demand curb their investment plans.
Russia’s Rosneft ROSN.MM had expressed an interest in buying the federal government’s 53.29% stake in Bharat Petroleum (BPCL) when its chief executive Igor Sechin visited New Delhi in February, while India’s trade minister has said that Saudi oil giant Aramco 2222.SE was enthusiastic about the stake sale.
A Rosneft source, however, said it will not buy BPCL, while another said the Russian oil major would only be interested in BPCL’s marketing business, which is comprised of fuel depots and more than 16,800 fuel stations.
“For this, India has to sell BPCL in parts,” the source said.
India’s government, which is looking to finance welfare schemes and bridge a fiscal deficit that has already topped the annual target, had aimed to raise $8 billion to $10 billion through the sale of its stake in BPCL.
But BPCL’s share price has plunged by nearly 30% over the past year to trade at about 386 rupees on Tuesday.
“This is not the time to invest in refining … demand would be there for oil to chemicals and not conventional products,” one of the sources familiar with Aramco’s thinking said.
Rosneft and India’s finance ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
“We continue to explore potential growth opportunities in Asia, including India, and will make appropriate updates as and when necessary,” Aramco said, declining further comment.
The Saudi government discussed BPCL’s privatisation with an Indian oil ministry official in July, an oil ministry document showed.
However, a second source familiar with Aramco’s