Essar Oil aims to corner 10% of India’s fuel retail market, chairman says

Essar Oil Ltd. plans to corner 10% of India’s fuel retail market, the company said. Part of the Indian multinational conglomerate Essar Group, Essar Oil already has a 10% share of the domestic refining segment. The company is looking at expanding its retail network to 5,000 outlets over the next two years, Chairman Prashant S. Ruia said during the company’s annual general meeting on Sept. 30.

“In line with our domestic refining market share of 10%, we aim to gain a similar retail market share over the medium to long term. We are looking at expanding our retail network to 5,000 operational outlets over the next two years,” he said.

Currently, India’s two private oil retailers, Essar Oil and Reliance Industries, have a negligible market share. The fuel retail market is dominated by public sector oil marketing companies, which include Indian Oil Corp. Ltd., Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd. and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd. But with the recent deregulation of India’s diesel fuel market, private sector oil marketing companies are moving in to re-open their once shuttered oil retail outlets, as well as build new ones.

“In terms of domestic demand, [the] domestic market has shown recovery in demand of key petroleum products. During fiscal 2014-15, gasoline consumption grew by 11.4% led by excellent growth in two wheelers and gasoil has also shown recovery after two years of negative to zero growth by growing by 1.5%. LPG grew by 10.3% during the FY15. We expect 5-6% per annum sustained growth in India’s petro product demand in the medium to long term. This would imply India requiring one new refinery of c. 400,000 bpd capacity every two years,” Ruia said.

He said that while the world is currently awash with crude oil supplies and that major refinery capacity additions are taking place in both India and the Middle East, going forward, refineries will be “prize assets for energy companies,” as setting up new greenfield capacity will become more and more challenging.” He added that India’s current excess capacity will get absorbed in the next three to four years.

“The time is now ripe for India to consider building new refinery capacity so as to cater to future growth in demand,” he said.