RIL to invest over $24bn in key projects by 2017

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) headed by Mukesh Ambani is on track to invest $24.4bn in various key projects by 2017 as a result of its booming oil and gas business with two new gas finds while US shale gas and retail segments are also growing faster.

“RIL’s key projects are on track, its exploration and production business is turning around with two new offshore India discoveries after a gap of two years. The regulatory environment has also improved, in our view, with an increase in domestic natural gas prices,” said Goldman Sachs in a report.Also, its US shale oil/gas and retail segments are “growing faster than our estimates, and we believe RIL has so far shown a balanced approach in its telecom business,” it said.

RIL, according to Goldman, offers the best downstream exposure in the Asian oil sector with its high quality asset base, diversified product portfolio, efficient management of inventory valuation swings and ability to fund large organic expansionary capex without taking on debt.RIL was the top performer among the Indian energy stocks last year and outperformed the Indian market as well as its regional and global peers.

Goldman Sachs added, “Moreover, RIL is a key beneficiary of the weakening Rupee-US dollar exchange rates, as its revenues for all businesses except retail are in dollars and we estimate about 50 per cent of the benefit of higher revenues fall to the PBT (Profits before tax) level after adjusting for higher interest payments on its dollar debt.”Every rupee depreciated against the US Dollar would lead to a 2 per cent improvement in RIL’s FY14-17 net profit.

Goldman said RIL has commenced work on all the major value-enhancing projects such as petcoke gasification project and refinery off-gas cracker project (ROGC) and is in various stages of detailed engineering/ordering equipment.”We expect the company to deliver the projects on time given that these have already got environment clearance and RIL already has land for the projects,” the report said.

According to Goldman, the regulatory environment for RIL has also started turning positive, particularly in the exploration and production (E&P) business where RIL has seen a series of approvals for its capex plans in recent quarters.In addition, the government has announced an increase in natural gas prices based on an oil and international gas- linked formula that could potentially double gas prices in FY 15. Also, the recent increase in custom duties for polymers is an indication that the government’s intention is of helping domestic producers.

“Despite having the highest capex amongst its Asia peers,RIL continues to have a strong balance sheet,” it added.On the recent turnaround in the E&P business, Goldman said RIL and its partner BP plcmade the first success in the KG basin block D6 in May 2013, when they encountered 155 metres of gas condensate column in a new reservoir.

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