Reliance plans to restart fuel stations

Reliance Industries plans to reopen all of its fuel stations in the country and is currently selling petrol and diesel at the same rates as state firms, a company statement said on Wednesday. Reliance, which operates the world’s biggest refining complex at Jamnagar in Gujarat, shut down its petrol pumps in 2008 as crude prices surged towards $150 a barrel.

At the time the Indian government subsidized fuel sales by state firms, knocking private retailers out of the market. “If the government announces diesel deregulation then diesel, like petrol, will also be available at market rates. Further to this Reliance will resume operations across all pumps, pan India,” the Reliance statement said. Retail sale of petrol and diesel are again viable since the end of June when the government lifted all controls on petrol and raised administered prices of other fuels including diesel. Reliance owns more than 1,400 fuel stations in India.

The government plans to free diesel prices also, but the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission told Reuters in an interview the government would set diesel rates for the next few months. Essar Oil, the only other private refiner in India, and Reliance had together captured about 17 percent of domestic retail market for diesel and accounted for 10 percent of petrol sales by 2005 before they were forced to shut down their pumps.

“Now, with the deregulation of petrol, there is a level playing field and Reliance petrol will now be sold at the same price as that of the other oil companies,” the statement said.

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