On Thursday, 9th July 2020, BP plc and Reliance Industries Ltd announced the start of their fuel retailing joint venture under the brand- ‘Jio-bp’. BP bought a 49 percent stake in the 1400 odd petrol pumps and 31 aviation turbine fuel (ATF) stations owned by Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) for USD 1 billion last year.
RIL holds a 51 percent stake and has commenced its operations. The company stated in a joint statement “Following initial agreements in 2019, bp and RIL teams have worked closely over the past few months in a challenging environment to complete the transaction as planned.” Operating under the ‘Jio-bp’ brand, the joint venture aims at becoming India’s leading player in fuels and mobility markets.
The joint venture will immediately start selling fuels and Castrol lubricants from the existing retail outlets which will be rebranded under Jio-bp soon. The statement said, “It will leverage Reliance’s presence across 21 states and its millions of consumers through the Jio digital platform. bp will bring its extensive global experience in high-quality differentiated fuels, lubricants, retail, and advanced low carbon mobility solutions.” The auto fuel industry is dominated by public sector oil companies that own the majority of 69,392 petrol pumps in the country. IOC, BPCL, HPCL owns 62,072 petrol pumps and 224 out of 256 aviation fuel stations in the country. BP and RIL expect the venture to grow rapidly for growing demands. The statement further added, “India is expected to be the fastest-growing fuel market in the world over the next 20 years, with the number of passenger cars in the country estimated to grow almost six-fold over the period. RBML aims to extend from its current fuel retailing network of over 1,400 retail sites to up to 5,500 over the next five years.” This rapid growth will demand more staff working in service stations from 20,000 to 80,000. The JV also looks for increasing current airports from 30 to 45 in future years. Commenting on the partnership, RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani said, “Reliance is expanding on its strong and valued partnership with bp, to establish a pan-Indian presence in retail and aviation fuels. RMBL will aim to be a leader in mobility and low carbon solutions, bringing clearer and affordable options for Indian consumers with digital and technology being our key enablers.” Bernard Looney CEO OF BP on the other hand said that India has been leading the way with innovations in digital technology, value engineering, and new energy solutions. He further added, “It is a country that will require more energy for its economic growth and, as it prospers, its need for mobility and convenience will accelerate. bp has a proud history in India spanning over a century. We are honored to be a strategic partner with Reliance- India’s most valuable country- and pleased that our partnership has grown in both substance and spirit over this past decade.” The JV aspires to provide advanced fuels with lower emission, electric vehicle charging, and other low carbon solutions. The statement also stated that RMBL is committed towards decarbonization of its operations. BP is one of the largest international energy companies in India with its many investments in India and employing around 7,500 people in oil, gas, lubricants, and petrochemical businesses. In addition to the above, it has gas value chain, retail, aviation fuels and mobility alliance with RIL, BP’s activities include Castrol lubricants, oil and gas trading, clean energy projects through investment in Lightsource bp, IT back-office activities and a new global business service center. BP owns a 33.3 percent stake in RIL operated gas blocks in eastern offshore including the flagging KG-D6 block.