Reliance Industries, which had invested around Rs 5,000 crore to set up over 1,400 filling stations and shuttered all of them in May 2008, is planning to open “a couple of hundreds more” by the end of this fiscal.
Reliance, which has a licence to run as many as 5,000 filling stations, had set up 1,433 pumps in the early part of the last decade. However, it had shut all of them in May 2008 after the fuel subsidy shot through the roof and there was a huge price difference between state-run oil companies and private players like Reliance.
Others like Essar Oil and some foreign players like Shell and BP had also quit the retail business then.
Reliance re-entered the retail business towards late 2014 after the retail prices were deregulated and diesel subsidy came to nil. When it was running the pumps, Reliance had notched up a market share of just 0.5 per cent.
Announcing the March quarter numbers, Reliance Group Deputy Chief Financial Officer V Srikanth told reporters, “We had over 950 functional filling stations as of March end out of the 1,433 we had been running earlier. We hope to add a couple of hundreds more over and above the original number by the end of the current fiscal year.”
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The Mukesh Ambani-led company had reported its best set of numbers in eight years at Rs 7,398 crore in net income in the fourth quarter of 2015-16, up 16 per cent over the year-ago period.
Srikanth said the last year saw the best demand scenario in over 15 years and the company has sold over 3 million kilo litres of fuel in the domestic market.
It can be noted that fossil fuel demand grew 11 per cent in 2015-16, the best since 2000-01. Fuel use rose to 183.5 MT from 165.5 MT in the previous period. Diesel intake rose 7.5 per cent to 74.6 MT, while gasoline/petrol usage rose 14.5 per cent to 21.8 MT.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) sees the country accounting for a quarter of global oil demand growth by 2040. It expects oil demand to touch 10 million barrels a day over the next 25 years, the fastest growth in the world.
Indian Oil, which controls over 50 per cent of fuel sales, expects petrol sales this fiscal to climb 11 per cent and diesel by about 3 per cent.