Essar Oil, India’s largest private fuel retailer, plans to double the number of petrol pumps it has in the country to 5,600 in 12-18 months, the firm’s Chairman Prashant Ruia said.
The company, which operates a 20 million tons a year oil refinery at Vadinar in Gujarat, will invest Rs 1,200 crore in upgrade of certain units of the refinery to help boost margins by USD 1.5 per barrel.
Essar Oil “has the largest private sector retail fuel network in India with over 2,800 operational outlets across the length and breadth of the country and over 2,800 at various stages of implementation to capitalise on the rising demand of transportation fuel”, Ruia said in its latest annual report.
The sales from retail operations grew by 127 per cent from 590,000 tons in financial year 2014–15 to 1.34 million tons in 2015-16.
“This growth was mainly on account of expansion of company’s retail network as well as the opportunity presented to the private players in the retail segment by deregulation of diesel prices, thereby linking the price of diesel to the global market,” the annual report said.
Ruia said Essar Oil has set new benchmark in the private sector retail sale network in just about two years.
“You may recall that Essar Oil was the first private sector company in India to open a retail fuel outlet back in 2003. Since then, the company kept its network operation despite the turbulent times right up till 2014, close to the complete de-regulation,” Ruia said.
In October this year, the promoters signed pact to sell 98 per cent stake in Essar Oil to Russia’s Rosneft and its partners for about USD 13 billion.
“In line with Essar’s philosophy to incubate, nurture, and scale up ideas to landmark valuations, the promoters decided to sell 98 per cent of your company stake to world’s leading oil and gas companies,” he said, adding that the deal will close within the current fiscal.
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Essar Oil CEO L K Gupta said the company is targeting to earn around USD 1.50 (per barrel of crude) incremental Gross Refinery Margin (GRM) as an outcome of its Rs 1,600 crore of investment in low cost and high margin projects.
“The company has already invested Rs 400 crore during the shutdown of the refinery in September-October last year. Furthermore, Rs 1,200 crore shall be invested to make additional upgrades in the various refinery units over the next 2-3 years,” he said.
The company currently has 2,823 operational petrol pump and will add another 2,800 pumps in 12 to 18 months, he said adding Essar added 583 pumps or one-and-a-half pump every day, during 2015-16.
“Our retail sales volume grew by almost 145 per cent to 1.6 million kilolitre during the year,” he said.