Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd has received the nod from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to set up 50 retail outlets that will sell petrol and diesel, but with a rider stating that it will have to invest a minimum of Rs 20 billion in the sector. The decision should help promote competition and result in lower costs for petrol and diesel, better service, quality and more choice for consumers. Government sources said that the proposal was approved within a month.
The HPL project is a consortium of the Government of West Bengal, The Chatterjee Group, the TATAs and Indian Oil Corporation set up in 1994 at an investment of Rs 58.64 billion. “The entry of more number of private players in fuel retailing will make the sector more competitive… this is an indication of the government’s continued emphasis on promoting ‘ease of doing business and is also in line with ‘Make in India’,” said a senior official in government.
Reliance and Essar are already into fuel retailing along with public sector majors like Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation. The entry of Haldia could make it more challenging for the incumbents to dominate the market. As per the current policy, a company investing or proposing to invest Rs 20 billion in exploration and production (E&P), refining, pipelines or terminals is eligible for authorization for marketing transportation fuels — motor spirit (MS), high speed diesel (HSD) and aviation turbine fuel (ATF).
Officials in Haldia Petrochemical could not be reached for comment. However, sources in the company confirmed that it has firmed up plans to set up 50 retail outlets for marketing of petrol in Purbi Medinipur, Paschim Medinipur, Bbankura and Purulia districts. In the second phase HPL will set up another 50 retail outlets in the districts of Howrah, south 24 Parganas, North Parganas, Hooghly, Nadia and Burdwan. The third phase will see it expand across other parts of the country.