Clean toilets at Essar's proposed 1,700 petrol pumps

Vol 6, PW 4 (24 Apr 02) Midstream & Downstream

NOT TO be outdone by Reliance, Essar Oil's marketing chief executive Raj Varma has also submitted an application to set up a nationwide network of petrol pumps.

More, he's written a series of letters to P. Raghavendran, President of Reliance's refinery business, asking if Essar could source products from Jamnagar! Predictably, Reliance is maintaining a frosty silence.

Varma's 30th March proposal openly admits Essar has no plan to build associated infrastructure or source products from its refinery because..

.it's not on stream yet! Essar claims it has 8,000 'Expressions of Interest' from people ready to operate petrol pumps as Essar franchisees and that it has a "strategic plan" to set up 1,700 petrol pumps "in a phased manner." Essar has also written to Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and Indian Oil with a proposal to source products, hire tankage capacity and use their pipelines.

Unclear is if they have have responded. "We have decided to avoid making any major investments in providing storage and handling facilities both at port and inland locations and will outsource the same," reads the Essar proposal.

"Till such time as our refinery production is available at end 2004 or early 2005 we propose to enter into agreements with existing oil companies for purchase of products." On one issue at least Essar scores over Reliance: a commitment to provide "clean toilets, safe drinking water, recognised brand restaurants and basic rest and recreation facilities" at all of its petrol pumps. Will that be enough to win ministry approval Probably not.