BP pays $1bn to Reliance for minority stake in Indian fuel retail venture

The UK-based energy major will take a 49 per cent stake in Reliance's retail network, which has set rapid expansion targets

British oil giant BP has paid $1 billion (Dh3.67bn) to India’s largest private sector company Reliance Industries for a minority stake in its fuel retail business.

The payment concludes a deal announced last year that will see BP take a 49 per cent stake in a new Indian fuels and mobility joint venture  known as Reliance BP Mobility Limited (RBML).  Reliance is retaining the remaining 51 per cent stake.

“Reliance is expanding on its strong and valued partnership with BP, to establish a pan-Indian presence in retail and aviation fuels,” Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries, said.

RBML will aim to be a leader in mobility and low carbon solutions, “bringing cleaner and affordable options for Indian consumers with digital and technology being our key enablers”, said Mr Ambani.

RBML aims to expand from its current network of over 1,400 fuel retail sites to about 5,500 over the next five years.

This rapid growth will require a four-fold increase in staff employed in service stations – growing to 80,000, up from 20,000 currently. The joint venture also aims to increase its presence at airports, to 45 sites from 30 currently.

“Reliance’s digital capabilities, technical expertise and reach complement our international fuels and service offers … [this] announcement is another milestone in our common goal to serve the Indian consumer,” BP’s chief executive Bernard Looney, said.

“This new venture is a unique opportunity to build a leading, fast-growing business that can help meet India’s demands and create exciting new digital and low-carbon options for the future,” added Mr Looney.

India is expected to be the fastest-growing fuels 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.

Reflecting the companies’ net zero ambitions, the new joint venture aspires to provide Indian consumers with advanced fuels with lower emissions, electric vehicle charging and other low carbon solutions over time, the companies said in a statement.

It will leverage Reliance’s presence across 21 states and its access to millions of consumers through the Jio digital platform. Meanwhile, BP will bring its global experience in high quality fuels, lubricants, retail and advanced low carbon mobility solutions.