New Delhi: BP Plc, Europe's third-biggest oil company, has received government approval to set up petrol pumps to retail petrol and diesel in India.
BP will be the tenth player to enter the lucrative fuel retailing business that is seeing double digit growth, not seen anywhere in the world.
The UK-based firm, as also Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd, was given approval by the Oil Ministry to retail petrol and diesel just a few days back, sources said.
When contacted, a BP India spokesperson said: "BP sees a strong future for transportation fuels in India. We are keen to be involved in this market and contribute to its development."
The company had in January this year won in-principle approval to retail aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to airlines in India. A few months later, it got full approval for that.
Now, the company has also got permission for retailing petrol and diesel.
"We can confirm we have been granted approval for marketing for ATF and have additionally applied for an authorisation to market MS (petrol) and HSD (diesel)," the BP spokesperson said.
For a licence to retail auto fuels petrol, diesel and ATF, a company should have invested a minimum of Rs 2,000 crore in exploration or production of oil and gas, oil refining, gas or product pipeline or terminals leading to additionality to the existing assets or creation of new assets in the eligible activities.
BP, which had in 2011 bought 30 per cent interest in 21 exploration blocks of Reliance Industries for USD 7.2 billion, had cited investment of nearly USD 500 million in oil and gas exploration and production for gaining the licence.
India currently has about 56,190 petrol pumps, with public sector firms operating a majority of them.
Private sector operators are limited to Essar Oil and Reliance Industries, which between them have some 3,500 petrol pumps. Royal Dutch Shell operates 82 petrol stations.
Numaligarh Refineries Ltd (NRL) and Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) are late entrants and have six outlets between them.
State-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) owns 25,363 petrol pumps, Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) 13,802 stations and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) 13,439 outlets.
Kolkata-based Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) was the latest company to get fuel retailing rights and BP now is the 10th player in the arena.
In ATF or jet fuel retailing, there are 205 aviation fuel stations, 100 of which are owned by IOC, 40 by BPCL and 37 by HPCL. RIL has 27 aviation fuel stations at airports while joint venture of Shell and MRPL owns one.
India is currently the ninth largest aviation market in the world. Its jet fuel market is circa 5.9 million tonnes per annum and is expected to continue to grow significantly to support the growth of the Indian economy.