October 18: Soon petrol and diesel may be delivered at home thanks to a new initiative of Ministry of Petroleum to use the ecommerce platform to deliver fuel in rural and semi-urban areas where the density of fuel stations is lesser.
Although talks about online fuel sales had started earlier in the year, it was Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s tweet of September 27 that showed the seriousness of the government in getting ahead with the project. It said: Using the technological advancements in the IT and Telecom Sector we will soon be starting online home delivery of Diesel and Petrol.
Even as oil marketing companies in private and public sector are eager to take the idea forward, safety issues could cause a delay. The final safety approval has to be received from the Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation.
The marketing companies have to arrange a new set of delivery tankers with nozzles and hosepipes fitted on them. The size of the tankers are also an issue as it may not be able to move along congested and narrow roads to deliver.
The biggest beneficiaries of the online fuel retailing would be private players such as Reliance, Essar and Shell. Reliance had 1400 outlets across the country which was closed once the crude oil prices rose and government gave subsidies only for state run players. However, they restarted operations once the sector was deregulated two years back.
However, the private marketing companies have found land acquisition and setting up infrastructure for fuel pumps is a time consuming and expensive affair. Essar has 3500 outlets and Shell 100. Now, the approval for online marketing has come as a boon for these players as they can reach out to customers at a lesser capital cost.
Lot of fuel delivery start-ups based in Chandigarh and other cities are eager to tap the opportunity. Right now transporting fuel of less than 1000 litres doesn’t require licence.