Reliance may set up LNG retail outlets, charging points for electric vehicles

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Mumbai: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is considering a plan to enter retailing of liquefied natural gas and setting up of charging stations for electric vehicles at its petrol pumps, two people aware of the plan said.

At the end of April 2017, RIL operated 1,221 of its 1,470 fuel retail outlets. The company plans to re-open the rest of the outlets by the end of the year. RIL holds licences for 5,000 fuel retail outlets.

“RIL imports LNG for use in its twin refineries at Jamnagar. However, after commissioning of its coke gasification, the company will not need it. It can probably divert that LNG for retail use,” said one of the two people cited above, requesting anonymity.

A spokesperson for RIL did not reply to an email sent on Thursday.

Royal Dutch Shell and Petronet LNG, importers of liquid gas, are also planning to set up LNG retail outlets in the country. RIL also plans to provide charging stations for electric vehicles (EV) at its fuel outlets as the firm expects electric vehicles to become popular.

“RIL has always looked at these options as its outlets are mostly on the highway, which is a convenient location to have. RIL is looking at the possibility and it is better to focus on electricity in future. As for the infrastructure, RIL’s fuel retail outlets would be a natural location as they are already designed for the ingress and exit of heavy vehicles,” the second person cited above said on condition of anonymity.

RIL and BP, in a joint announcement on 15 June, said that the companies would expand their existing partnership for strategic cooperation on new opportunities across India’s energy sector.

“The companies expect to collaborate, in addition to the conventional transportation and aviation fuels retailing, on unconventional mobility solutions, addressing electrification, digitization and disruptive mobility trends. Together, these collaborations will seek to address the mobility needs of urban, rural/farm, industrial/commercial, and highway consumers in India, applying the leading capabilities of both partners,” the companies said in the statement.

In June, state-run NTPC Ltd said it is entering the business of setting up charging stations for electric vehicles. The company has set up its first charging station at its offices in Delhi and Noida.

EV charging points will promote clean energy transportation.

In April, power minister Piyush Goyal had said: “We are going to introduce electric vehicles in a very big way. We are going to make electric vehicles self-sufficient like Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA). The idea is that by 2030, not a single petrol or diesel car should be sold in the country.”

“Though RIL can use the existing infrastructure at its fuel retail outlets, LNG retailing and providing charging option for electricity vehicles would need creation of additional infrastructure. While with LNG there could be challenges of bringing in LNG economically into a retail outlet and then dispensing it and making money out of it, for charging stations, RIL will have to bring in electricity,” said an analyst at a Mumbai-based brokerage.

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