India’s private fuel retailers, including Reliance-bp and Nayara Energy, have reportedly started pricing petrol and diesel at market rates after a year of selling below-cost fuel to match the dominant public sector retailers. The losses incurred by these private companies were significant, despite pricing fuel at slightly higher rates than state-owned companies. However, a fall in global oil prices over the last six weeks has enabled the private retailers to price fuel at par with their costs, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Reliance-bp Mobility Ltd (RBML) is a joint venture between Reliance Industries Limited and UK’s bp. Nayara Energy is backed by Rosneft, a Russian oil company. Shell is another private fuel retailer that has been selling fuel below cost to compete with state-owned companies.
The public sector companies, including Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), had been selling fuel below market rates to keep prices low for consumers. This put immense pressure on private companies to match these prices, leading to losses for them. However, the recent fall in global oil prices has brought market rates down, enabling private companies to price fuel at par with their costs.
The move is expected to help private fuel retailers improve their margins and profitability. They will now be able to compete more effectively with state-owned companies and may be able to gain market share. The shift to market pricing will also provide a more level playing field for all companies in the sector, and may help attract more investment in the industry.
India is one of the world’s largest consumers of crude oil and petroleum products, and the country’s fuel demand is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. The shift to market pricing by private fuel retailers is a positive development for the industry, as it will help to ensure the sustainability of the sector and provide consumers with more choice and competitive prices.
It is worth noting that the recent fall in global oil prices has been driven by a number of factors, including a decrease in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased production by major oil-producing countries. However, it remains to be seen whether prices will remain low in the long term or whether they will rebound as demand picks up.