French oil major Total exploring aviation, fuels biz in India

French oil major Total exploring aviation, fuels biz in India


Bangalore: French oil-major Total is exploring various marketing avenues in India including aviation, industry fuels and retail service stations segments as part of its growth strategy to enhance its presence in the country, particular in the south.

Besides, it also wants to grow its LPG business by 50% in another five years.

“We are looking at every door that is open," Christian Chammas, country chairman for Total Refining and Marketing Group of Companies in India, told PTI.

Total, the world’s fourth la rest integrated listed oil and gas company, has operations in over 130 countries and engages in upstream and downstream operations, marketing and trading and produces base chemicals and speciality chemicals.

“With privatization of airports, we now see new opportunities in the aviation sector," he said, adding that the company was in talks with various potential partners on the issue. He, however, refused to divulge much details.

The group, which has a presence in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Maharashtra, plans to strengthen its presence in these states, before attempting to become a national player, he said.

“We wish to enhance our regional focus. We want to strengthen our presence in the states where we already have presence in," he said while explaining the group’s strategy to become a major player in certain focused segments rather than a minor player with a scattered presence in the country.

About the group’s presence in the lubricant and LPG market segment, he said: “We want to enhance our growth in these segments as well. We want to grow the LPG business by 50% in another five years and also see a similar growth in lubricants".

Refusing to divulge the nature of investments to be pumped into India, Chammas said: “We first have to assess the opportunities here." Total is likely to announce its fresh investment plan later. “The picture will be clearer in another six months," he said.

“We wish to seize every opportunity here. It could either be through joint ventures or stand alone. He said in partnership with HPCL, Total is constructing an underground cavern at Visakhapatnam capable for storing 60,000 MT of LPG. It will be commissioned by the year-end by Elf Gas, a subsidiary.

“We have also announced our participation with HPCL, GAIL, OIL and Mittal Group to launch a feasibility study for a green field refinery and petrochemicals project at Vizag," he said, adding the study was expected to be completed by the later half of 2008. Total also partnered with Shell to start a LNG re-gasification terminal in Hazira.

Agreeing that there was a stiff competition posed by the major domestic players in this field, he said: “It will take time, but we ready to play in a level playing field".

Chammas said the group saw India being on par with China in business by 2015 and investments. “The country has significant potential for growth. If India gives us the right opportunities, we are willing to tap it. We are looking at long-term investments here", he added.

The Paris-headquartered group had a turnover of $223 billion in the last calendar. In India the group has subsidiaries in various business segments such as LPG, lubricants, natural gas and chemicals.