• BP to partner Reliance to open petrol pumps

    Oil major BP plans to open petrol pumps in the country in a joint venture with Reliance Industries and bring in innovative strategies to capture the market dominated by state-owned companies.

    “We are partners and are looking at all possible options. We have been discussing the retail foray,” sources said.

    BP is RIL’s partner in its exploration, production and gas-sourcing businesses. In February 2011, London-based BP had bought a 30 per cent stake in 21 oil and gas production-sharing contracts operated by RIL for $7.2 billion.

    RIL and BP are also partners in India Gas Solutions, an equal joint venture for sourcing and marketing gas in the country. Besides, BP sells automotive and industrial lubricant brand Castrol in India.

    In January this year, BP got in-principle approval to sell aviation turbine fuel in India. The global giant has also got in-principle approval and licence to set up 3,500 fuel outlets.

    RIL holds licences to set up 5,000 fuel outlets. So far, it has set up about 1,500 filling stations, of which over 1,000 are operational.

    Industry sources said several marketing options were being considered to capture the fuel retail market.

    Apart from dynamic pricing, the company is looking at the option of setting up motels, convenience stores and café with WiFis.

    Also, to cater to commercial goods transporters and truckers, highway pumps will have resting and eating places and vehicle servicing outlets.

    Within the city, there are plans to introduce dynamic pricing, which means the cost of a product could be flexible.

    Analysts said the entry of new players in fuel retailing will soon cause a price war at petrol pumps, benefiting consumers of petrol and diesel in line with the prevailing international practice.

    Arbitration drill

    The government is considering joining the arbitration initiated by RIL and its partners against a $1.55-billion demand raised on Reliance for “unfairly enriching” itself by producing natural gas belonging to ONGC.

    “We have received the notice and are studying it. We will take an opinion of the law ministry on joining the arbitration,” a senior oil ministry official said. Bobby Hart Authentic Jersey

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