International oil major Shell has started its journey in India in 2004 and today it has established itself as a major player in the high performance automotive fuel and oil segment. Recently Shell India, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shell, has launched its premium performance petrol, ‘Shell V-Power’ in India. Ravi Sundararajan, General Manager, Shell Retail India, was in Bengaluru to launch the new product. In a discussion with Automotive India News, Ravi Sundararajan reveals Shell India’s plans and other notable developments in the Indian oil industry.
Interview Excerpts :
Can you tell about your new product ‘Shell V-Power’ and how it will be suitable for the cost-sensitive Indian market?
Shell V-Power is already acknowledged and successful fuel worldwide and it is used in 67 countries across the world. The V-Power is backed with a technology to improve the responsiveness of the engine by supporting it to perform to its full potential. We know all fuels used in the vehicles are not the same and that is why Shell is committed to making better fuels for its customers and their cars. The Shell V-Power will replace our existing Shell Super brand of premium petrol in India.
You said it has been already used in several countries. What kind of technological endorsement or reference you can provide as a proof to the performance of Shell V-Power petrol?
The Shell V-Power performance petrol under went through rigorous testing both at the laboratory level and at the track before it was introduced in the commercial usage market. Shell has a technical partnership with Ferrari. Through this tie-up, we have tested the new product in extreme conditions that helped us for better understanding on providing the fuel to meet highest standards. It contains 99 percent of same compounds that are found in the Shell V-Power race fuel used by Scuderia Ferrari in the 2013 FIA Formula One World championship. Shell spends almost 21,000 hours a year in research to develop finest fuel for Scuderia Ferrari to register high performance in Formula One.
Can you talk about your lubricants establishment in India including your blending plant?
Shell India has its state-of-the art lube-oil blending facility near Mumbai at Talaja. This is one of the finest blending facilities in Asia and it manufactures a range of branded lubricants including Shell Helix, Shell Advance and Shell Rimula. These lubricants are used in both the automotive and industrial sector.
Shell is one among a few private players in India having visibility in the Indian retail fuel industry. What is your current status and future plans in the fuel retailing in India?
Shell is the only international oil company that was approved and granted licenses by the Indian government to open 2,000 fuel retail stations in India. Currently we are operating 76 fuel retailing outlets across the country in six states – Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Karnataka leads the pack with 28 outlets followed by 19 fuel pump stations in Gujarat.We have plans to expand it further. But at this stage, we are not able to share the details.
How important is Indian market is for Shell and what kind of sops or support the private sector oil companies like Shell India expect from the government?
Shell is a major private sector crude product supplier in India. We are not looking for any sops. But we have been actively campaigning for the complete free pricing and the government has actually ensured that all the subsidies will be removed on both petrol and diesel and now there is actually level playing scenario. Only when there is a level playing field, it will be able for the companies to bring the best of products and technologies in any markets. We do not want subsidies to come back any time directly or indirectly. I think that would be the best thing that we really look for.
With crude oil prices coming down and petrol prices almost coming closer to diesel, how do you see prospectus for petrol in India going forward?
At the moment we are not talking anything on fuel prices. But when you look at the pricing structure and the price at refinery gates for a few years now, the diesel has been slightly a costlier than petrol. But if you look at the petrol pump stations in India, the petrol is costlier than diesel and that is because of higher taxes and duties. So there is a choice made for the customer to chose whether they want diesel or petrol cars. However attraction of diesel has come down after deregulation of diesel in October. But even now the taxi segment or people who do huge amount of driving in a month have to do their own economics whether it makes sense to switch over from diesel. On the other hand, diesel vehicles are costlier than petrol vehicles. So there are multiple parameters plays part in these whole cycle. As far as we are concerned, we are meeting the needs of customers in both petrol and diesel segment.