French oil and gas major Total SA today said it is mulling entering fuel retailing in India in collaboration with a local partner. “It’s a big market with big players like Indian Oil and others having thousands of retail stations. It has been recently deregulated. Obviously we are thinking about it,” Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said at an industry event here. “I think India for us is also a matter of finding the right Indian partners,” he said, adding that Total has to find the right partner to do fuel retailing business.
Pouyanne further said: “It’s not because we are large international company and we can do very well, we have the money, the financial capacities, we have the expertise in many of these businesses, but I think it is also to understand the local ways of making business and in India we have specifics… “So, yes we have an interest, but we have to find the right partner to do the local business like most of peers have done as well.”
Earlier, after meeting Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, he said Total plans to invest in expanding LPG infrastructure in India, including boosting storage capacity, import terminals and distribution network. The firm sells lubricants and LPG in India. It had in 1998 commissioned a fully integrated LPG import terminal at Mangalore. It also has a minority stake in LNG import terminal at Hazira in Gujarat.
Pouyanne said India’s growing energy market, especially LPG, LNG and renewables, were attractive for investments for Total. “Met the Chairman & CEO, @Total S.A., Mr.Patrick Pouyanne and his team. Assured to extend all possible support,” Pradhan tweeted.
He said he encouraged Total to invest in infrastructure, gas pipelines, LNG terminals and petrochemicals business in India. “Welcomed the valuable partnership between @Total & our #OMCs in the areas of LPG, LNG, Gas infrastructure & renewable energies,” Pradhan said in another tweet.
The liquefied natural gas (LNG), Pouyanne said, is a good market in India. “We are already in Hazira. We are trying to see if we can expand,” he said, adding that there are “plenty of terminals” in Gujarat.
Besides the 5 million tonnes a year Hazira import facility, Petronet LNG Ltd operates a 15 MT terminal at Dahej and Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GSPC) is building a 5 MT terminal at Mundra in the state. “We are among the top 3 leading companies in the LNG business, to bring more gas in the LNG terminals. Many terminals are being built. We are already partners in Hazira terminal, we can also develop the gas market in India,” he said. There are “too many (LNG terminals) in Gujarat”, he said.
Royal Dutch Shell owns 74 per cent stake in Hazira LNG terminal while Total has the remaining 26 per cent. “India is a growing market – LPG, LNG and even renewables as well,” he said. “We are looking at expanding in LPG — LPG plants, networks, we already have a (LPG) cavern (and are looking at) expanding storage capacity, import terminals — all the infrastructure that is necessary to expand the LPG business.”
He however did not give investment details saying “we have some plans”. “We are already importing LPG…we are also a big trading company,” he said.