The story of the petroleum industry in India can be traced to the world’s oldest running refinery, at Digboi in Assam. Prior to this, kerosene was imported into the country since the 1860s, mainly for purpose of illumination.
In the pre-Independence Indian economy, the public sector had a minimal presence and thus as the growing demand for petroleum products outmatched the capacity of Digboi, the shortfall was met through imports by foreign companies operating in India. These included Burmah Oil Company, Stanvac, Burmah Shell, Caltex, and Indo-Burma Petroleum Company.
It was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister who envisioned self-sufficiency in the strategic petroleum sector as integral to the building of a new, assertive, and confident India.
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is India’s flagship national oil company and downstream major. It was corporated on June 30, 1959, as the Indian Oil Company. It was renamed as Indian Oil Corporation on September 1, 1964, following the merger of Indian Refineries.
The company owns and operates ten of India’s 20 refineries with a combined refining capacity of 60.2 million tonnes per annum. These include two refineries of subsidiary Chennai Petroleum Corporation. The corporation’s cross-country network of crude oil and product pipelines, spanning over 10,000 km and largest in the country, meets the vital energy needs of the consumers in an efficient, economical and environment-friendly manner.
The USSR played a very significant role in helping Indian Oil establish itself in its formative years and thereafter, in maintaining a steady supply of crude oil and deficit products for the country. They not only helped in launching the company’s marketing operations against Rupee payments but also transferred technology, technical training of Indian manpower, and project execution which was helpful in setting up Barauni, Koyali, and Mathura refineries.
Indian Oil’s support has been vital for India’s defense capability, during the 1964-1965 war with Pakistan, Indian Oil took over the entire responsibility of ensuring stable and sufficient supplies of petroleum products to the armed forces. In 1971, when conflict erupted against Pakistan, the company supported the country in times of national emergency. Indian Oil went so far a to organize crude oil supplies to the Chittagong refinery of Bangladesh after the liberation.
In August 1972, Servo entered the market as a truly Indian lubricant brand. Servo lubricants were initially sold through IBP retail outlets since IndianOil’s collaboration with Mobil was still in operation. By 1974, IndianOil R&D notified more than 260 oil formulations, covering automotive, industrial, metal-working, and marine specialties. The same year, IOBL became a wholly-owned subsidiary of IndianOil, with the termination of the tie-up with Mobil.
Indian Oil Corporation today is much more than just notching up high turnover and is so much more than being ranked the 151st among the world’s largest corporates in Fortune’s “Global 500” listing.
The company also referred to as The Energy of India, is taking the lead in meeting India’s energy demands efficiently and effectively today. The company also has subsidiaries in Sri Lanka, Mauritius, the UAE, Singapore, Sweden, the USA, and the Netherlands.
IndianOil accounts for nearly half of India’s petroleum products market share, with sales of 78.54 million metric tonnes (MMT) in the year 2019-20. Over 32% of national refining capacity and 71% downstream sector pipelines throughput capacity are with IndianOil. What’s more, the IndianOil Group has a combined refining capacity of 80.2 million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA).
Through its network of over 50,000 customer touchpoints, surmounting the challenges of tough terrain, climate, and accessibility, IndianOil reaches precious petroleum fuels to every nook and corner of the country, including 29,000+ fuel stations (petrol pumps), over 8,515 Kisan Seva Kendra (KSK) outlets in rural markets, all of them fully automated for quality & quantity assurance.
IndianOil is fully aligned to India’s aspirations to transit to clean energy and has planned large investments in alternative energy and sustainable development projects. The company is working on expanding its solar energy and wind-power portfolio. Its diversification into alternative, renewable energy options will cover the production of ethanol from refinery off-gases, a novel bio-methanation process for converting organic waste to biogas, and commercialization of a patented, economical process and enzyme for production of 2G ethanol from agricultural waste.