Reliance Industries regains market share in India

Eleven years after Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) began shutting its fuel retail outlets in India, it has now regained market share in petrol and diesel to pre-2006 levels.

RIL, which enjoyed an overall 12% market share in fuel retailing till 2006, saw this slip to less than 0.5% in 2014, by when it had shut most of its fuel retail outlets due to spiralling crude oil prices. RIL spent ₹5,000 crore in setting up 1,470 retail outlets between 2004 and 2006. In 2008, however, RIL started shutting down outlets, and later reopened some of them. In 2018-19, it reopened or added 59 stations, reaching 1,372 fuel retail outlets now.

Up until 2006, when RIL’s fuel sales were at their peak, the refiner had a market share of 14.3% in diesel and 7.2% in petrol. “With 1,372 outlets, we clocked the highest-ever exit volume at 5.6 million kilolitres in March 2019," said RIL in the presentation.

Today, petrol and diesel sales nationwide grew 9% and 3%, respectively, in 2018-19 from a year ago, RIL outperformed the industry with figures of 21% and 16%, respectively, the company said in a presentation to analysts after its quarterly earnings.

The oil-to-telecom conglomerate, along with its partner BP Plc, plans to jointly set up as many as 2,000 petrol pumps in India over the next few years. While Reliance holds a licence to set up 5,000 fuel retail outlets, BP has a licence to set up 3,500 fuel retail outlets in India.

Currently, RIL’s fuel retail outlets are largely concentrated in the western region. Its key competitors are state-owned oil marketing firms — IndianOil Corp. Ltd, Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd—which together dominate over 90% of the fuel retailing market.