Mumbai: The country’s largest refiner, Indian Oil Corp. Ltd is discussing a proposal to work with Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on retail fuel stations in India.
“They have only asked if we can work jointly,” IndianOil director of marketing Gyan Chand Daga said on the telephone on Wednesday. “Our business development group is talking to them. Nothing has been finalized yet.”
RIL, owner of the world’s largest refinery complex, shut its 1,433 fuel stations across the country after record crude prices made it unviable to compete with government-owned refiners that sell petrol and diesel at controlled prices.
State-run refiners get partial compensation from the government for selling fuels below cost in a bid to curb inflation.
“All options are being considered to reopen the fuel stations,” city-based RIL said on 16 March.
Prices of crude oil have fallen 67% from a record $147.27 (Rs6,362 then) a barrel in New York on 11 July.
RIL has sought expressions of interest from all the companies, Daga said, without providing details. “They approached us nearly 20 days to a month ago.”
RIL plans to merge with a unit that started a 580,000-barrels-a-day refinery in December at a time of excess industry capacity and declining earnings from processing oil because of a slump in global demand for petrol and diesel.
The new plant is adjacent to RIL’s 660,000-barrel-a-day refinery at Jamnagar in Gujarat.
RIL will commission all secondary units at the new refinery in the next few weeks, a company spokesman said on Wednesday.
The company is also looking at selling petrol and diesel from its twin refineries in Jamnagar directly to the US, the world’s largest fuel consumer.
“We are in discussions with certain parties in (the) US,” P.M.S. Prasad, head of the company’s oil and gas business, said.
“We believe the highest value addition to every molecule is through direct sales, and yes we are keen on doing that in (the) US,” Prasad said.
RIL is talking to consumers of petrol as well as fuel marketers such as Hess Corp., he said without giving other details.
PTI and Reuters contributed to this story.