The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bonanza for oil majors

New Delhi, March 31 (PTI): In a major boost to oil majors aspiring to tap the retail oil sales market worth $ 15 billion a year, the government today allowed marketing licence holders to import petrol and diesel.

The new Exim policy de-canalised the import of petrol and diesel for firms holding a retail licence. However, the two products would continue under the state-trading list for others.

The government has till now granted licence to Reliance Petroleum, Essar Oil, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and Numaligarh Refineries Ltd for authorisation to market transport fuel. World’s third largest oil group, Royal Dutch Shell’s application for setting up 2,000 petrol stations was still pending.

A separate notification issued by the commerce and industry ministry said the provision of allowing imports through state canalising agency Indian Oil Corporation has now been replaced to allow all companies granted rights for marketing of transportation fuel.

The move is a shot in the arm for Essar Oil, whose ambitious plan to set up 1,700 petrol stations has been obstructed as IOC refused to import petrol and diesel for it while the group’s 10.5 million tonnes refinery in Gujarat is yet to be completed.

Expressing happiness at the long awaited policy change, Essar Oil CEO Raj K Varma said they would still prefer to enter into supply arrangements with local players to source products for its petrol stations.

Though crude oil imports had been de-canalised last year, petro product imports remained under canalised category as imported petrol and diesel could be sold at a cheaper rate under the given duty structure.

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