Oil giants seek inroads into India’s retail fuel market

India posted fastest oil demand growth in 2016 Q1

India

The fourth-biggest oil consumer, India, recently offered Saudi Aramco a stake in refineries and petrochemical projects.  NoisyPilgrims.com photo.

By Nidhi Verma

NEW DELHI, June 3 (Reuters) – Global oil majors including Saudi Aramco and Total plan to tap the retail fuel market in India, its oil minister said on Friday, reflecting the expanding role of the world’s fastest-growing large economy on the global crude landscape.

India’s fuel markets could be a lucrative prize for the world’s oil majors as they seek outlets for their gasoline and diesel. India posted the fastest oil demand growth in the world in the first quarter of 2016 and is replacing China as the driver of growth globally, the International Energy Agency said in its latest report.

“Saudi Aramco is eager to enter in Indian market, we are finding ways to help them,” Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said in Hindi in a live telecast on a government website.

India, the world’s fourth-biggest oil consumer, recently offered Saudi Aramco a stake in refineries and petrochemical projects.

Saudi Aramco wants to expand globally and is looking at potential joint ventures in several countries, including Indonesia, India, the United States, Vietnam and China, chief executive Amin Nasser told Reuters in an interview in May.

Fuel marketing in India has turned profitable after the government ended decades-old control over the retail prices of gasoline and diesel.

Pradhan said local private oil refiners Reliance Industries and Essar Oil have started opening their mothballed fuel stations and are adding new ones to expand business.

French major Total and European major Royal Dutch Shell that have a limited presence in India are also keen to strengthen their presence in the fuel retailing business, Pradhan said.

“Shell officials recently met me and informed about their plan to expand the retail network in a big way in southern India,” he said.

He said his ministry has agreed to grant a licence to BP to market jet fuel in India. “There is a possibility they (BP) may expand into the Indian retail sector,” he said in Hindi.

Essar Oil is still working to complete a deal to a sell a 49 percent stake in its 400,000 barrel per day Vadinar refinery in western Gujarat state to Russian giant Rosneft .

“Rosneft, rich with oil and gas wants to join Indian markets,” Pradhan said.

(Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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