In line with rising consumption of petrol and diesel in India, oil companies expanded their retail network by opening more than 2,500 fuel stations during 2015-2016. While the biggest expansion was by private sector oil and gas company Essar Oil during the year, Reliance Industries added none, based on data gleaned from the PPAC. 

The Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell (PPAC) is a body that works under the Indian petroleum and natural gas ministry. The figures are provisional. 

Fuel network at a glance

India had 56,190 retail outlets (fuel stations) as on March 31, 2016, according to the PPAC data released on Monday. This marks an increase of 2,771, or 5.18 percent, from the beginning of the financial year; there were 53,419 outlets as on April 1, 2015.

State-run Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) had a combined network of 52,604 retail outlets as on March 31, 2016, up 2,157 from 50,447 stations at the beginning of financial year 2014-2015. 

IOC expanded by adding 958 outlets to take its network to 25,363, while HPCL and BPCL also increased the number of their retail outlets to end up with 13,802 and 13,439 fuel stations, respectively.

Essar Oil's network expanded exponentially from 1,491 outlets as on April 1, 2015, to 2,100 by the end of the year. RIL did not add to its 1,400 outlets during the year.

Shell added five outlets to its network to take it to 82 stations.

Consumption of petrol, diesel up in FY2016

Consumption of petrol rose 14.5 percent during the financial year 2015-16, while diesel witnessed a lower pace of 7.5 percent. Besides the rising number of vehicles, campaigning for assembly elections during March 2016 also lifted the overall consumption of the two commodities, said the PPAC. 

Higher demand for wheat harvesting by thrashers and sugarcane crushers in north Indian states and usage of DG sets due to poor rainfall also contributed to a spike in diesel consumption, the PPAC data highlighted.

The provisional oil import bill for 2015-2016 was Rs. 4,18,931 crore ($64.4 billion) for importing 202.5 milliom metric tonnes (mmt) of crude, down from Rs. 6,87,416 crore ($112.74 billion) paid to import 189.43 mmt. Figures for 2015-2016 are provisional.