The retail marketing of petroleum products in India is done by the Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) i.e. Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL), Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL), Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), Bharat Oman Refineries Ltd (BORL) and private companies like Reliance, Essar & Shell.
There are 320 Terminal/Depots, 189 LPG Bottling Plants (as on 1/9/17), 59595 Retail Outlets including private companies (as on 1/4/17), 19136 LPG Distributorships (as on 1/9/17), 6543 SKO/LDO Dealers (as on 1/4/17) in the country.
The pricing of petroleum products was brought under Administered Price Mechanism (APM) effective July 1975 when the pricing of petroleum products was shifted from import parity principles to cost plus principles. Under APM (1975 to 2002) various oil pool accounts were maintained with the objective to i) ensure stability in selling price; ii) insulate consumers against international price fluctuations; and iii) subsidization of consumer price of certain products like kerosene for public distribution and domestic LPG by cross subsidization from other products like petrol, Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) etc. and indigenous crude oil.
Effective 01.04.2002, the APM was dismantled and the Government decided to provide subsidy on sale of PDS kerosene and domestic LPG at specified flat rates under the Budget. To administer these budgetary subsidies, the Government formulated a ‘PDS kerosene and domestic LPG subsidy scheme’ in 2002. Under this scheme it was decided that these subsidies will be phased out in 3-5 years.
Even though APM was dismantled effective 1.4.2002, since 2004, the consumers of sensitive petroleum products viz. Petrol (decontrolled w.e.f. 26.06.2010), Diesel (decontrolled w.e.f.19.10.2014), PDS kerosene and Domestic LPG were being insulated from the impact of unprecedented high international oil prices by the Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) namely IOCL, HPCL & BPCL.