London-based shipping major Foresight International, owned by non-resident Indian billionaire Ravi K Mehrotha, is planning to invest over $500 million in India’s energy logistics sector.
The over three-decade old Foresight, which operates a fleet of rigs and ships for oil and gas exploration and transportation, is primarily looking at investing in the entire value chain of India’s liquified natural gas requirements, including ports, said Ravi K Mehrotha, in an exclusive interaction with Business Today.
“India’s energy needs are acute and LNG will remain a major fuel to run many industries. Our investment in India will be to tap the potential in this sector,” he said.
Foresight had teamed up with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) a couple of years ago for oil and gas exploration and production business (E&P) and had invested over $330 million in two rigs operating in the Indian shores.
“Our idea is to identify and bring gas from various locations and investments will be in the entire chain from sourcing to landing and will be using next generation Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) and floating storage unit (FSU) for the purpose in the next 5-7 years,” said Hitendra Solanki, head of projects – LNG & Ports, Foresight.
India plans to more than double the share of natural gas in its energy mix to 15 per cent by 2022 from the current 6.5 per cent and will require a huge increase in imports from the current 20 million tonnes. The country currently has four terminals in operation and is planning to set up many such facilities.
Hitendra Solanki said coastal shipping is another area Foresight is planning to tap in the shipping sector in India.
Foresight was founded in 1984 by a Kanpur-born marine engineer Ravi K Mehrotha, who worked with the Shipping Corporation of India and was deputed to work on an Indo-Iran joint venture for transporting iron ore from Kudremukh to Iran. In his career, he rose to become an advisor to Iran’s supreme leader late Ayathulla Khomeni on shipping and international trade. In 1984, he set up Foresight in London and a year later, bagged an exclusive contract for the famous oil tanker shuttle service during the Iran-Iraq war period to transport oil from the seas of the war-affected Persian region.
Currently, the company has over $2 billion of net worth and operates in shipping, offshore drilling and runs a chain of Indian restaurants in China, branded as ‘Tandoor’. Foresight also has a joint venture with UK’s leading footwear retailer Pavers Limited and is present in India since 2008. “We were the first to get approval for single brand foreign direct investment in 2012 and have established a chain of ‘Paver England’ stores across India from the far east Tripura to Thiruvananthapuram in the South. Our plans are to open 100 stores in the country within a few years,” said Ritesh Tandon, managing director of Pavers England’s India business.