ONGC energises govt kitty with ₹7,224 cr dividend

NEW DELHI: Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has paid a dividend of ₹7,224 crore to the Centre for the fiscal 2023-24, leading the pack of oil and gas companies, which form the biggest block of dividend payers to the Central government.

ONGC’s dividend contribution to the state was almost double the ₹3,636 crore dividend by Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), nearly three times Bharat Petroleum Corporation‘s ₹2,413 crore, close to four times GAIL‘s ₹1,863 crore and about ten times Oil India‘s ₹737 crore.

These are interim dividends and a final instalment usually comes after the companies declare annual earnings.

Heavy payouts have been driven by strong profits during the financial year. High oil and gas prices aided producers’ profits, while a domestic pump price freeze lifted refiners’ earnings. Natural gas marketers also gained from increased consumption of fuel.

“ONGC maintains a healthy mix of dividend release and internal resource generation to get a good balance of present and future,” ONGC chairman Arun Singh told ET, referring to the company’s ability to meet current shareholder expectations and fund future capital expenditure, which will rise on account of the transition.

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ONGC spent ₹30,000 crore in the first 11 months of FY24, marginally exceeding its annual capex target. The oil and gas producer expects its capex to almost double towards the end of the decade.

Investor sentiment shifts

Global oil and gas firms have used their extraordinarily high profits in the past two years to reward shareholders by paying heavy dividends or buying back shares. This has contributed to a shift in investor sentiment towards these companies which, before Covid-19, struggled in the stock market.

For the nine months till December 2023, ONGC posted a consolidated profit of ₹43,466 crore and paid a dividend of ₹12,266 crore. The Centre holds 59% in ONGC.

IOC has paid a total dividend of ₹7,061 crore to sharholders after clocking a profit of ₹36,364 crore for the nine months. Coal India‘s dividend of ₹12,634 crore, including ₹7,976 crore to the government, exceeds ONGC’s this year.

Payouts from other sectors

India’s top power producer, NTPC, declared a dividend of ₹4,363 crore, including ₹2,230 crore to the government.

Power Grid Corporation has paid a dividend of ₹7,906 crore, including ₹4,059 crore to the government, while Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has paid a dividend of ₹1,471 crore, with ₹1,054 crore going to the state. NMDC paid ₹1,685 crore in dividends, with ₹1,024 crore to the government.

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