Inspired by the online and e-commerce boom in the country, oil marketing companies — Indian Oil, HPCL and BPCL — are planning to start online retailing of diesel to cater to the rural customers and commercial establishments helping them save time and improve their productivity. The companies are awaiting a final safety approval from the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation (PESO) before they start the online booking and delivery of diesel on the lines of delivery of LPG cylinders. The entire process will require a new set of delivery tankers with nozzles and hosepipe fitted on them. There will be safety clearance for areas in which these tankers can move. Any congested, busy and residential areas will be strictly prohibited from home delivery as fueling requires open space. The companies have experience of supplying aviation turbine fuel on similar lines, however, it may vary slightly as conditions are different in cities and rural areas compared with airports.
Arun Kumar Singh, executive director, retail, BPCL, told FE, that they expect the safety clearance to come in next one month and the online retailing to start by December-end. “If we take the entire sales of all PSUs put together, the rural and commercial establishments including industries would constitute around Rs 25,000 crore or 15% of total. In the long term we expect these consumers to move on to the online platform,” Kumar said. “To begin with the companies are targetting around 2% of the total consumers from around 55,000 retail outlets of all PSUs put together,” kumar said. S Ramesh, director marketing of BPCL, said, a lot of start-ups have shown interest in taking-up the job of online retailing for the PSUs. “We are in talks with some of them and evaluating how to move ahead. We may even form a separate company for the purpose,” Ramesh said.
Heavy traffic, narrow roads and small size retail pumps within city limits make it extremely difficult for large earth movers and loaders to come to the fueling pumps. Besides, third party contractors who have takenover activities like mining for Coal India don’t have requirements as large as miners who would construct tanks, rather they prefer onsite fueling. “This is where online booking and onsite delivery would be helpful,” said another official on conditions of anonymity. Due to huge safety concerns related to transporting and fuelling of vehicles in the residential and congested areas the All India Dealers Association recently expressed its unwillingness for home delivery. However, the PSUs said they are mindful of their obligations and will take care of entire safety process before online booking for home delivery becomes operational.