Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s India unit and Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL), the country’s second largest fuel retailer, may team up to help the latter set up an energy trading unit in Singapore, two officials aware of the development said.
A Singapore office has been in the works for BPCL to expand its global reach and participate in trading of crude oil, natural gas and energy derivatives, the two said on condition of anonymity.
“BPCL and Shell India are working together to develop a joint trading desk where Shell will support BPCL in terms of techniques, and talent training in trading,” said a senior official, one of the two, from an oil trading company aware of the development. BPCL did not respond to an email seeking comment. Shell India, in an e-mailed response, said, “Shell does not respond to market speculation.”
“BPCL has reached out to Shell for training in oil trading. An international trading desk at Singapore would allow BPCL flexibility to enter and exit markets whenever required as operations are continuous and through the day,” the second official cited above said. “It will be a good platform to gather information on crude oil and ensure flexibility.” Shell operates trading firms across the world, with its main trading and marketing locations being Houston, London, Dubai, Rotterdam and Singapore. The trading desk will help BPCL maximize gains on trading of crude oil and oil products, gas and energy derivatives.
“Trading is not an easy segment and currently BPCL lacks competencies in international trading operations. A tie-up with Shell would help it learn the tricks of the trade, train its officials and make use of investments in an international destination,” said the first official cited above.
Last April, the government had allowed the boards of state refiners—Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd (HPCL), BPCL and Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL)—to make quick spot purchases; avail of temporary discounts in the market and improve their refining margins. Spot purchases currently form 15-30% of the overall crude procurement of the oil marketing companies. Last October, BPCL said that it plans to spend $6.75 billion in the next five years to increase its refining capacity by over 60% or 1.18 million barrels per day from the current 730,000 barrels per day.