I am regular user of Shell Petrol for the last 2 years or so. Shell has a petrol pump at Vadapalani which is closer to my home. Shell provides two variants of Petrol - Unleaded Petrol and Super Unleaded petrol. I normally use unleaded petrol for my car. Today when I went to Shell for filling up the tank, I was told that with effect from 28 Dec 2007, Shell Petrol pump would not be selling unleaded petrol instead would be selling Shell Super Unleaded. What is the big deal? Yes, Shell Super Unleaded petrol costs Rs4.10 paise more than the normal unleaded petrol.
Shell is issuing a pamphlet to all drive-in customers mentioning clearly the reasons for the same:
1. The subsidy scenario not being a level playing field, with only the Public Sector Units (read HPCL, BPCL, IOC) being provided with subsidies;
2. Shell's inability to keep prices artificially low in the absence of subsidies, while continuing to deliver value.
Note: Words in Red and Italic were added by me and not mentioned in the Shell pamphlet.
India follows the Administered Price Mechanism (APM) for pricing of petro products. The administered price mechanism is applicable to all companies which sells petro products in the retail market. The administered price of petro-products was last changed by the Government of India some 6 months ago, I guess. The international oil prices have moved up since then resulting in oil marketing companies bleeding heavily. Government forces the oil marketing companies including the private players like Reliance, Essar and Shell to sell at the pre-determined prices. Both private and public sector oil marketing companies make sizeable losses on a daily basis but PSU oil marketing companies are compensated by the government in the form of subsidies and oil bonds.
Private retailers cant get any subsidy from the Government even after Reliance using all its might trying to influence the Government in this regard. All this being done by the Government for the benefit of you and me and also helping them to keep the inflation at lower levels artifically during the election year!! Now the Gujarat elections are over and Congress being completely drubbed, I expect a petrol price hike in January 2008.
I have been told by many people that ESSAR and Reliance used to close down their retail outlets for many months in the past due to unfavourable retail prices fixed by the Government. This time, Shell is doing it differently. Rather than closing the shop, it is not selling low price unleaded petrol. It is forcing customers to buy the costly super unleaded petrol. This would help Shell India to cut down on the losses. Shell claims it uses propriety additives that are eveloped by the R&D team at Shell Global Solutions, which helps to clean out deposits which lead to better responsiveness and improved fuel economy.
What should I do now? Switch to other PSU oil marketing companies like HPCL, BPCL etc., I guess not, because my experience tells me that I get more mileage from Shell's fuel compared to other companies. Adulteration and the cheating in the quantity in most of the other PSU's retailers deter me from moving to them. The service levels in a Shell Petrol Pump is entirely different from PSU petrol pumps and it is uniform across the city. The customer gets treated properly with due respect and attention. There can be exceptions of one or two PSU petrol pumps selling good quality fuel and better customer service, but overall I rate the quality as poor.
I am a loyal customer of Shell and as the Shell ad-lines goes: I swear by Shell. Let me give it a try with Shell Super Unleaded Petrol and see for myself how it helps in better mileage and engine performance.