Essar Energy’s shares jump as expansion gets back on track

INDIA-FOCUSED energy firm Essar Energy yesterday said that it was on track to complete projects worth nearly $5bn (£3.1bn) this year.

The news sent Essar’s shares up three per cent to 424.5p, on relief that construction delays at Indian power plants reported in March seemed to be over.

The firm, which last week raised $550m through a convertible bond offering, said that 14 growth projects across India were on track, with six due for first production this year.

The company now has a net debt of $4.76bn, which Essar said yesterday was in line with its forecasts.

Esssar’s $350m purchase of Shell’s Stanlow refinery is due to complete later this year, subject to shareholder approval.

The firm notched up record production at its power plants in the three months to the end of March, rising 10 per cent to 1,845m units.

On the refining side of the business, Essar’s Vadinar plant was operating at more than 140 per cent of its nameplate capacity to report a slight rise in year-on-year production.

Two thirds of the oil produced was sold to domestic consumers, with the rest being exported. Essar’s gross refinining margin has risen 50 per cent since last year, with the firm generating $8.71 a barrel during the quarter.

Essar floated in London last May as a spin-off of Indian conglomerate Essar Group, which still owns more than 75 per cent of the company.

Essar is considering floating more of its businesses on the London stock market.