ONGCs retail foray delayed

Mumbai, Nov 28 | Updated: Nov 29 2004, 05:30am hrs
Exploration major Oil and Natural Gas Corporations (ONGC)s foray into marketing of transportation fuels has been delayed by a year. But the company seems to be in no hurry to set up petrol pumps. The retail foray was originally expected by March 2004.

ONGC chairman and managing director Subir Raha said, We dont have the compulsions to set up petrol pumps immediately. He added that the company had decided to enter the retail segment as it is an important profit segment in the petroleum business. The company is working on it.

ONCG plans to come up with its first retail outlet by the end of the current financial year. Mr Raha added that the company is working towards acquiring land for setting up its petrol pumps. However, the company plans to set up only a few pumps to make its entry in the sector. The company has obtained permission from the government to set up 1,100 petrol pumps under its brand name and another 500 under Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL).

The National Institute of Design (NID) is working on the branding of the petrol pumps for the company and has submitted a report to ONGC.

Competition in the petrol pump sector is hotting up and public sector oil companies are changing their strategy by becoming aggressive. The objective is to capture customers by becoming as close to omnipresent as possible.

Companies are now looking to set up petrol pumps in shopping complexes and upcoming housing societies. Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) has already taken the lead. BPCL is adopting a three-pronged strategy rural areas, the periphery of cities where the highest development is taking place and urban requirements in the cities. While the objective has been clear in terms of getting in more customers, the name of the game seems to be innovation. In that context, the old strategy of increasing market share by focussing on highways will soon become passe if oil companies succeed in strengthening their presence in these new areas.