Indian Oil relaunches controversial green hydrogen tender that previously landed it with a court case




State-owned giant has overhauled the contract for 10,000 tonnes-per-year facility at one of its refineries


State-owned Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) has re-launched and re-worded a controversial green hydrogen tender that it cancelled last month after independent developers took it to court alleging bias and conflict of interest.


The new tender to build, own and operate a 10,000 tonnes-per-year green hydrogen plant at IOCL’s Panipat refinery in Haryana, was published on Friday with new wording that removes most of the clauses that the developers claimed discriminated against them.


Bidding on the new tender will begin on 15 April, with the first stage filtering applicants based on technical feasibility before a commercial bid on 23 April.


The six developers of India’s Independent Green Hydrogen Producers Association (IGHPA) filed a writ petition in Delhi’s High Court in November 2023, alleging that IOCL had worded the original tender for the plant in such a way so as to favour a joint venture in which the state-owned giant had a stake.


The court accepted IGHPA’s complaints at the time and requested a response from the government, which owns IOCL.


Top of the list of the IGHPA’s complaints was the inclusion of a clause that would have allowed GH4India — a joint venture between IOCL, Indian engineering firm Laren and Toubro and renewables developer ReNew — first right of refusal on the project.


It had also complained that GH4India would have been exempt from the Earnest Money Deposit, ie, a deposit made to a seller that represents a buyer’s good faith to make a purchase.


Both of these clauses appear to have been removed, with the Earnest Money Deposit set at 54 million rupees ($658,147) in the new tender.


“The reason [the previous tender] was cancelled is because of the ROFR [Right of First Refusal] clause,” an unnamed senior official at IOCL told Indian finance website MoneyControl this week. “For the clause, we had taken the advice of the solicitor general of India and he said under certain circumstances, IOCL can go ahead with 100 percent ROFR.”


The official went on to say that the tender would be given the go-ahead after the next hearing on the writ in court, which is due on 28 March.


However, the IGHPA’s complaint that IOCL cannot legally refuse the lowest bid appears to have been ignored, as the new tender includes the following caveat:


“[IOCL] reserves the right not to accept the lowest bid, if in its opinion this would not be in the interests of the works/IOCL”.


Hydrogen Insight contacted IOCL for comment, but has not received a response at the time of publication.



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