Gulf Oil Branches in Bangladesh


Indias Gulf Oil Corporation Ltd., part of the Gulf Oil International family, last week formed a joint venture with Oil Bangladesh Ltd. to blend and market the Gulf brand of lubricants in Bangladesh.

Gulf Oil Corporation holds a 51 percentstake in the new company, christened Gulf Oil Bangladesh Ltd. andheadquartered in Dacca, while Oil Bangladesh Ltd. controls the rest. This is the culmination of a relationship formed in 1999 when Gulf appointed Oil Bangladesh assole distributor to market its products. Currently the Gulf brand commands about 3.5 percent market share in Bangladesh.

Oil Bangladesh is part of the Rang Group which has its fingers in many pies: real estate, publishing, broadcasting, information technology, insurance, agro foods. It also markets Mitsubishi, Hindustan Motors and Eicher commercial vehicles.

Apart from its lubricants, greases, oil filters and coolants portfolio, Gulf Oil Corp. deals in mining products and infrastructure, building products, specialty chemicals and floriculture. After Castrol, it is perhaps the second-largest private sector player in the Indian lubricants arena.

A Gulf Oil Corp. press release claims this is the first time an Indian lube corporation has invested in a lube plant outside the country. Executive Director V. Ramesh is delighted that his corporation has been able to generate enough equity to finance this venture; he hopes to corner 7 percentof the 70,000-ton Bangladesh market in the first year of operations.

Having established a strong presence in India, we are poised for expanding our operations overseas, says Ramesh.We are happy to cement our fruitful association with Oil Bangladesh Ltd. and start a joint venture company in Bangladesh. It will be our endeavor to explore expansion opportunities in the international market and ensure improved shareholder value.

Three state-controlled corporations, Jamuna Oil Co., Meghna Oil Co. and Padma Oil Co., loom large on the Bangladesh lube scene even as a huge number of players have entered on the heels of liberalization in 1997. Prominent heavyweights Castrol, Shell, Caltex, Mobil and Valvoline jostle for space in a market reportedly growing at the rate of 6 to 8 percent per year. Indian biggies Indian Oil Corp., Hindustan Petroleum Corp. and Bharat Petroleum Corp. and Middle East players Emirates National Oil Co., Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. and Kuwait Petroleum also have a presence.

Hitherto, explains Ramesh, the duty on raw materials and finished products was the same but with the Bangladesh government reducing the duty on raw materials by 8 to 10 percent in order to attract investment, we decided to launch a lube blending operation by forming a joint-venture company.

Further, as both India and Bangladesh are part of theSouth Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, it saves Gulf Oil Corp. from the double taxation burden. For the present, Gulf Oil Bangladesh will import only 25 percent of its needs including premium quality base oils and a few products which cannot be blended in Bangladesh.

Industry sources reveal that Bangladesh will not remain the Indian independent’s only overseas foray.Gulf Oil likely to commence lube blending operations in Indonesia within a few months after formalities are completed for yet another joint venture.

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