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Cairn India, IOC and Maruti Suzuki may witness some action today

The oil ministry has decided to allow Cairn India to further explore Rajasthan oilfields, a decision that could raise the block's output by over 70%. The decision will also intensify exploration activities in other producing fields operated by ONGC, GSPC and Reliance Industries (RIL). Cairn, which produces 175,000 barrels of oil every day from oilfields in Rajasthan, has been unable to raise its output because of an earlier interpretation of the production-sharing contract (PSC) by the oil ministry that limited exploration activities to the first seven years after a contract is awarded. After examining Cairn's proposal afresh - the proposal has been pending with the government for almost 18 months - oil minister Veerappa Moily came to the conclusion that the PSC does not prohibit exploration in producing fields.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has sought early allotment of 125 acres of land to Dhamra Port Company (DPCL) by Odisha government for setting up of a LNG terminal within the port premises. In March this year, IOC had entered into a pact with DPCL for developing a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal inside the port area at an investment of Rs 10,000 crore. The terminal will have a total capacity of 15 million tonnes per annum of which five million tonnes will be commissioned in the first phase. Out of this first phase capacity, 60% gas will be consumed by IOC's Paradeep refinery and proposed petrochemicals complex while the balance can be supplied within the state. The oil marketing major is also keen to enter into a MoU (memorandum of understanding) and subsequently form a joint venture with Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco) for joint development of gas infrastructure and promotion of city gas distribution. Both IOC and Idco want to explore opportunities to be a single-point agency for total energy solutions provider to industrial locations in the state.

Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) has started spadework to set up its second facility in Gujarat with acquisition of another 600 acres, in addition to its existing plan to invest Rs 4,000 crore for setting up a plant in the state. The company also expects about 6-7% sales growth in 2013-14 after closing the current fiscal with about 6% rise in vehicle sales. The country's largest car maker has also decided that it will not enter the premium segment of passenger cars in India and will protect its image of a small car manufacturer. MSI had earlier this year announced to invest Rs 4,000 crore, its biggest ever outside Haryana, to set up a 700-acre new production facility in Gujarat by 2015-16. Besides, components suppliers of the company are also likely to make an equal amount of investment to set up their respective plants. The capacity in the first phase will be 2.5 lakh units a year.

Lanco Infratech has begun talks with JSW Energy and Adani Power to sell a power plant in Karnataka as banks pile pressure on debt-laden power companies to sell assets and improve cash flow. The preliminary discussions have taken place between JSW Energy, Lanco and Adani for the sale of the 1,200 mw coal-fired Udupi power plant. The shift in strategy follows Lanco's failure to raise up to Rs 4,150 crore by selling a minority stake in its power holding company to private equity funds or strategic investors. Lanco began talks with banks a few months ago, seeking easier repayment terms for its debt of Rs 32,500 crore - one of the largest among private power producers. High debt, paucity of fuel (both coal and gas) and defaults by bankrupt state electricity boards have put immense strain on the cash flows of private power firms. Many companies have been unable to complete plants as banks cut back on funding. Those with completed projects have been forced to either keep plants idle or operate them at low capacity due to limited availability of gas and coal.

State gas utility GAIL India in this week will import a shipload of natural gas in its liquid form, called liquefied natural gas (LNG), for commissioning of the beleaguered Dabhol facility in Maharashtra. The 5 million tons a year LNG import plant, which was built about 15 years back, is likely to be commissioned by January end. GAIL had in March this year imported a shipload of LNG for commissioning the 5 Dabhol but the operations had to be aborted midway after two successive equipment failures. GAIL had in March bought a cargo from Statoil ASA's Snohvit LNG plant in the Barents Sea off Norway for commissioning the plant and this time it has sourced it from Gazprom. The company is looking to tie-up up to 2 million tons of LNG for import at the nation's third liquefied natural gas terminal. The terminal, which will take about 45-days to be fully commissioned, is expected to operate at less than 60 percent of capacity in the absence of a breakwater, which guard ships against high tides.

Ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's New Delhi visit, Kremlin has rejected special tax concessions to state-owned Oil & Natural Gas Corporation's (ONGC) Siberia-focused firm Imperial Energy. India had been pressing for tax concessions to Imperial Energy to make up for the prohibitively high cost of extraction from tight oil assets in Siberia because of bad terrain, cold climate and killer taxes. ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of the state explorer which had in 2009 acquired Imperial Energy for $2.1 billion, says high taxes mean its gets only $19-20 per barrel at an oil price of $90-100. This nominal net back is generated from the exploratory and production efforts made in the harsh conditions of West Siberia, from where a meager 13,803 barrels per day of output has to be transported through 5000 kilometres of pipelines.

Agro-chemicals firm PI Industries expects to double its turnover to Rs 1,750 crore by 2014-15 fiscal on the back of promising growth prospects from its plant protection and custom synthesis businesses. In the agro-chemicals market, which is worth Rs 12,000 to 13,000 crore, the company in among the top five players. In the custom synthesis segment, the company is focusing on patented products with longer life cycles. Presently, PI Industries 60 percent revenue is from the agro chemicals business and the rest is from custom synthesis. The company operates 3 formulation and 2 manufacturing facilities as well as four multi-product plants under its three business units across Jammu and Gujarat. It also has a research and development facility in Rajasthan. The company is also in the process of setting up a fine chemicals production plant in Gujarat with an investment of Rs 200 crore.

State-run firms Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) and National Aluminium Company (Nalco) are expected to begin construction of their Rs 15,000-crore aluminium plant joint venture in Gujarat's Kutch in four months. The companies have signed a primary agreement to value-add bauxite. The project was first envisaged in 2010 when GMDC floated tenders to find partners. But because of the lack of response from companies, it had to delay the deadline twice. GMDC chose Nalco as its partner in November 2011. The company had blamed delays in evaluating proposals and some administrative issues as the reason for the slow progress of the project. A year after the joint venture was agreed, the two are yet to close the final agreements and start the plant construction.

Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M), which bought its foreign partner stake in the struggling commercial vehicle joint venture, will invest further money in the venture, after which the venture will eventually become a subsidiary. The proposed investment is to roll out new variant of trucks, on exports and others. Besides, the company has also decided to expand the product portfolio further after which it may look at roping a new partner. The Indian auto major has acquired 49% from its US joint venture partner Navistar for around Rs 175 crore. Thirty months since the first product was rolled out by the JV partners.

The Great Eastern Shipping Company (GE Shipping) has placed an order for one new building Medium Range Product Tanker to be built at STX (Dalian) Shipbuilding Company, China. The contract also gives the company the option to add more ships at a later date. The contracted ship, of about 50,000 dwt, will be built according to the new eco design features which will result in greater fuel efficiency and be in compliance with Energy Efficiency Design Index requirements. The first tanker is expected to join the company's fleet during Q4 FY2015. The company's current fleet stands at 33 vessels, comprising 23 tankers (9 crude carriers, 13 product tankers, 1 LPG carrier) and 10 dry bulk carriers (1 Capesize, 3 Kamsarmax, 1 Panamax, 4 Supramax, 1 Handymax) with an average age of 9.0 years aggregating 2.60 mn dwt.

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