Indian oil firms take up automation of petrol stations

Coming soon. Automated fuel dispensers in India. Indian oil companies are in process of automating retail automobile fueling stations, popularly known as "petrol pumps."

Indian Oil Corp. (IOC), the country's largest commercial enterprise, is in an advanced stage of automation of its retail gasoline stations in the country to improve services. IOC owns more than 19,000 fuel stations across the country. The company is spending around US$3.1 billion this year for the automation of all its retail petrol stations.

"We have taken up a program on automation of all the retail petrol stations. Initially we will cover 4,500 petrol stations which retail about 200 kilo liters of fuels every month. In the first phase, about 1,600 petrol stations have been identified and are in the process of automation," RS Butola, chairman and managing director, IOC said, adding that after completing the 4,500 petrol stations, they would move to petrol pumps that retail about 100 kl every month.

With this, customers can verify whether they have bought the right measure of fuel in return for their money. "The beauty of automation is you cannot tamper with," he added. Federation of All India Petroleum Traders (FAIPT) sources inform that other oil marketing companies have also begun the process of automation of petrol pumps.

The two other oil majors in India -- Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation -- are also in the process taking up automation of their petrol stations. BPCL had taken its automation initiative to a higher level making select outlets as automation for outlets. This ensures that all sale transactions shall take place through automation system only. It already has 1,500 automated outlets.

FAIPT President Ashok Badhwar says that the move was being taken mainly to avoid "malpractices" in petrol pump stations. "Including the time, date and along with his vehicle registration, the quantity of fuel supplied to him will be known," he added.

Initially, the oil marketing companies (OMCs) will implement automation process in all the petrol pumps in metros. Later this will be spread to other urban and rural areas across the country. In 2003, there were only 10,200 petrol pumps in the country. But in 2010 it grew to 35,700 outlets and now it has gone up to 40,700.

Uday Lal Pai, udaylalpai@gmail.com, is a freelance journalist based in India.

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