Total 100 auto-LPG fuel stations by March from Aegis

Vol 12, PW 8 (04 Sep 08) Midstream & Downstream
     

Mumbai-based LPG importer Aegis Logistics is planning a huge increase in the number of stations selling LPG as car fuel.

PETROWATCH learns Aegis opened its 45th â€کdealer-owned, dealer-operated’ LPG station in the Rajasthan temple town of Nathdwara on August 27. “We will be opening five more stations in the next few days,â€‌ Raghunath Das, vice president of the company’s autogas project tells PETROWATCH.

“The next one will be at Ratlam in Gujarat.â€‌ Das claims Aegis now ranks second after Reliance (which has 120 stations) among private players in the domestic auto-LPG market.

“But unlike us, Reliance has no import facility,â€‌ adds Das. Aegis owns a LPG import terminal at Mumbai and a 20,000-tonne onshore storage facility.

“We are the only private player among 12 in the country with our own import terminal,â€‌ says Das. “This is our main strength.

â€‌ Das adds Aegis is planning a rapid retail expansion with another 22 auto-LPG stations by end-October for Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and plans to take the total to 100 by February-March 2009. Aegis began its LPG import and transportation business in 1994 and was the first private sector company in India to set up a LPG import terminal.

In India private auto-LPG sellers like Aegis, Vanaz Engineers and Reliance fight for market share alongside state-owned companies IOC, BPCL and HPCL. They charge more or less the same, but the biggest challenge is ensuring consistent supplies to their fuel stations - an area where Aegis scores ahead of its rivals.

“Logistics are our strength,â€‌ says Das. “We have our own import terminal and transport facilities so our LPG stations never go dry.

This is our main advantage.â€‌ Despite the Aegis expansion, auto-LPG sales in India have dropped by 40% over the past year.

In 2007, sales averaged around 4000 litres/day at each fuel station, but are now less than 2000 litres/day. Das blames the drop in sales on the narrowing price difference between auto-LPG and petrol, which the government keeps artificially below global costs.

Although subsidised, petrol is still more expensive.

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