The Centre on Thursday called off the process to invite bids for the sale of 52.98% of its stakes in oil refiner Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited.

Most of the potential bidders have expressed their inability to continue in the disinvestment process owing to the “prevailing conditions in the global energy market”, the finance ministry said in a statement.

On March 7, 2020, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management had invited bids for sale of the government’s stake in BPCL. Private companies with a net worth of $10 billion or more (over Rs 77,500 crore) were made eligible for the bidding process.

In November 2019, the Centre had approved the disinvestment of the government’s stakes in BPCL, along with that of four other state-run companies. Three bids were received by November 2020 for the sale of BPCL stakes, according to PTI.

On Thursday, the Centre said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the date for submitting expression of interest, or EoIs, had been extended multiple times.

“However, the multiple Covid-19 waves and geo-political conditions affected multiple industries globally, particularly the oil and gas industry,” the Centre said. “Owing to prevailing conditions in the global energy market, the majority of Qualified Interested Parties have expressed their inability to continue in the current process of disinvestment of BPCL.”

The decision on whether the government wants to initiate the disinvestment process again will be taken after reviewing the situation, the finance ministry added.

Anil Agarwal’s Vedanta Group, and venture funds Apollo Global Management and I Squared Capital Advisors had shown interest in buying the government’s stakes in the oil refiner company, according to PTI. However, they pulled out after they could not convince foreign investors about the deal.