Numaligarh Refinery (NRL) is currently evaluating a re-entry into the fuel retailing business through petrol pumps. The development follows the centre’s decision to make Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL), shed its stake in the Assam Accord refinery (as NRL is popularly called). BPCL’s stake in NRL was recently picked up by fellow public sector undertakings Oil India (OIL) and Engineers India (EIL).
“Since the promoters have changed and OIL is not in the business of fuel retailing, there is an incentive for us to re-enter the fuel retailing business. This time, we may not set up many retailing outlets, but there may be some strategic outlets that can serve 50 to 60 mobile fuel dispensing units,” an official aware of the discussions told Business Standard.
“The customer will have the choice to either come to the petrol pump (like they usually do) or opt for door-step delivery of fuel. We have not firmed up the number of retail outlets we will set up now, however, this is a logical way forward for us,” he added.
According to officials in the know, NRL has had permission to open 510 retail outlets in the country since 2004. At its peak, NRL had operated 136 retail outlets mostly in Eastern and North Eastern India. These were called Energy Stations.
However, in 2008 and 2009, when the crude oil prices had skyrocketed to over $ 140 a barrel, the petrol and diesel prices were regulated through subsidies. But since NRL was not categorised as an Oil Marketing Company (OMC) by the centre, it was making huge losses by selling fuel at curtailed prices. The retail outlets were then surrendered to BPCL.
In line with the push towards entering the fuel retailing space, NRL has also become the first refinery in the country to directly start door-step diesel delivery. “Fuel will be retailed under the brand name Photon. We will be carrying fuel from our terminal in Numaligarh to the customer directly,” Subrata Das, General Manager (Marketing) at NRL said.
He said NRL has started with two bowsers of 6 kilo litres capacity of mobile fuel delivery. NRL has collaborated with Repos Energy for providing end-to-end solutions for mobile dispensing. These trucks will be operating within 100 kilometres of Golaghat district, Assam.