BPCL to be BS VI-ready by March 1

by Shahkar Abidi 25 Feb 2020

(Image Credit: Subhankar Sen Twitter account)

As the April 1, 2020 deadline for transition to BS VI emission norms nears, here is some good news for automobile users. State-owned Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) which has over 15,400 fuel stations in its kitty will be BS VI ready at nozzle level beginning March 1. The company will be starting its final leg of preparation from Wednesday or Thursday. The government-mandated new fuel emission deadline is from April 1.

R Ramachandran, Director (Refinery) at BPCL said, "We are through with what we had to," while commenting on the preparedness level of the new emission norms which India is leapfrogging to.

Earlier this month, the country’s largest fuel retailer, Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL) claimed that more than 15,000 fuel retail centres, out of the total 27,000 in the country, are ready to dispense BS VI fuel at nozzle level. That works out to 55 percent of the fuel stations; the remaining ones are expected to be ready by early to mid-March.

Speaking at Global Electrification Mobility Summit, on the sidelines of Auto Expo 2020 in New Delhi, Dr SSV Ramakumar, director (R&D) and board member, Indian Oil Corporation, had said that 10 out of the total 11 refineries operated by IOCL are now ready to provide BS VI-grade fuel. 

Interestingly, the country's oldest refinery and also one of oldest operating refinery in the world at Digboi was the first to produce fuel for the BS VI era. Indian Oil accounts for nearly half of India's petroleum products market share, with sales of about 90 million tonnes in 2018-2019.  The company has more than 27,700 fuel stations (petrol pumps) across the length and breadth of the country.

Will the increase in price pass on to consumers?
The industries executives claim that they are in discussion with the Government over helping them (oil marketing companies) recover their investment for BS VI upgradation. According to industry insiders, state-owned OMCs have so far invested around Rs 29,000 crore just for upgrading the refineries for the production of cleaner BS VI fuels. While BPCL has invested over Rs 7,000 crore, IOCL has made a capital expenditure of around Rs 16,000- 16,500 crore. HPCL, on the other hand, has invested about Rs 5,000 crore for upgrading the refineries for BS VI fuels.

For BPCL, the entire upgradation has resulted in a price hike in its fuel which could be between 70 paise to Re 1 per litre. “We hope that this is built up in the retail price” said a BPCL executive. The same executive said that this can be done with the government ‘s mandate by way of cess, or a VGF for a certain period of time. “However, it may not happen immediately as the market will find its own level of pricing at some time” the executive continued.

India could leverage from Coronavirus 
According to Ramachandran, India should take advantage of the falling crude prices which is happening because of the Coronavirus outbreak from China. The excess crude supply is now available at a much cheaper rate which will eventually lead to cheaper fuel for the end consumer.