The struggle for the petroleum retail market is becoming even more intense. Soon after the dismantling of the administered price mechanism (APM) in April 2002, BPCL had launched its branded motor spirit, Speed, coupled with the `Pure for Sure' campaign.
One result was that BPCL cornered the highest market share in the branded petrol category, a distinction difficult to swallow for the largest oil company, Indian Oil.
However, this is only half the story. While BPCL has been successful in retaining its market share lead (40.5 per cent) in the branded petrol segment during April-November 2004, it has lost overall market share in both the motor spirit (MS) and diesel (HSD) segments.
Second to IOC in total oil market share, the company is a distant second (4.1 per cent) in terms of market share in the branded diesel segment.
While HPCL has more or less maintained its market share in both MS and HSD, the biggest gainer in the oil retail sector is IBP.
To be merged with IOC soon, the company has registered the largest growth in sales in both MS (13.2 per cent) and HSD (16.7 per cent).
Accordingly, its market share in MS has gone up from 8.2 per cent to 8.9 per cent.
The market share in HSD increased from 10 per cent to 10.8 per cent.
However, IBP has a negligible presence in the branded oil segment.
While queries sent to both HPCL and BPCL remained unanswered, sources said that the expansion in the retail network has made an impact on the overall oil market share among the players concerned, especially IBP and BPCL.
IBP has doubled the number of retail outlets to from roughly 1,500 to nearly 3,400 in the last two years.
BPCL increased its network by roughly 300 during the current year. IOC and HPCL have grown their networks by over 900 and 700 respectively.
Apart from being second (34.4 per cent) to BPCL in market share of branded petrol, IOC has registered a steady growth in the MS and HSD sectors.
The company has 72 per cent market share in the branded diesel segment and has maintained its HSD market share at 38 per cent.
In the overall MS market, IOC improved its market share marginally from 34.1 per cent to 34.3 per cent.
The aviation turbine fuel (ATF) sector has so far been dominated by IOC. But HPCL has been taking big strides, registering 64 per cent growth in sales against the industry average of 13.1 per cent.
HPCL has also improved its market share substantially from 9.8 per cent to 14.2 per cent. On the other hand, Indian Oil witnessed a fall in its market share from 67 per cent to 65.1 per cent. BPCL, the second largest ATF player, slipped too.
As far as the naphtha market is concerned, despite the fact that it has shrunk by 8.5 per cent during the year, Indian Oil has been able to register a growth in sales by 0.7 per cent. BPCL sales saw a substantial fall. IOC sources, however, warned that "this market will not last long".