- Early History - Dawn of a New Era
Do take some time off for a brief interlude with the past, as we take you back in time to the evolution of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited. A new chapter in the history of Indian industry.
Petroleum (derived from Latin Petra - rock and oleum - oil) first came up in wells drilled for salt. People found it useful as illuminating oil and the demand for it steadily increased.
Samuel Kier, a Pittsburgh druggist, bottled and marketed Petroleum as medicinal cure. To market a deodorised variant, he designed the first primitive refinery in 1852, which was a huge improvised kettle, connected to a metal tank.
'Colonel' Edwin Drake and 'Uncle' Billy Smith drilled a well with the specific objective of finding oil, and on 27th August 1859, they 'struck oil' at Titusvale, in North Western Pennsylvania, USA, at a depth of 69.5 ft.
The 1860s saw vast industrial development. A lot of petroleum refineries also came up.
An important player in the South Asian market then was the Burmah Oil Company. Though incorporated in Scotland in 1886, the company grew out of the enterprises of the Rangoon Oil Company, which had been formed in 1871 to refine crude oil produced from primitive hand dug wells in Upper Burma.
The search for oil in India began in 1886, when Mr. Goodenough of McKillop Stewart Company drilled a well near Jaypore in upper Assam and struck oil. In 1889, the Assam Railway and Trading Company (ARTC) struck oil at Digboi marking the beginning of oil production in India.
While discoveries were made and industries expanded, John D Rockefeller together with his business associates acquired control over numerous refineries and pipelines to later form the giant Standard Oil Trust. The largest rivals of Standard Oil - Royal Dutch, Shell, Rothschilds - came together to form a single organisation: Asiatic Petroleum to market petroleum products in South Asia.
In 1928, Asiatic Petroleum (India) joined hands with Burmah Oil Company - an active producer, refiner and distributor of petroleum products, particularly in Indian and Burmese markets. This alliance led to the formation of Burmah-Shell Oil Storage and Distributing Company of India Limited.
- The Pioneering Spirit - Burmah Shell Marketing
A pioneer in more ways than one, Burmah Shell began its operations with import and marketing of Kerosene. This was imported in bulk and transported in 4 gallon and 1 gallon tins through rail, road and country craft all over India.
The company took up the challenge of reaching out to the people even in the remote villages to ensure every home had its supply of kerosene. The development and promotion of efficient kerosene-burning appliances for lighting and cooking was an important part of kerosene selling activity.
With motor cars, came canned Petrol, followed by service stations. In the 1930s, retail sales points were built with driveways set back from the road; service stations began to appear and became accepted as a part of road development. After the war Burmah Shell established efficient and up-to-date service and filling stations to give the customers the highest possible standard of service facilities.
On 15th October 1932, when civil aviation arrived in India, the company had the honour of fuelling J.R.D. Tata's historic solo flight in a single engined de Havillian Puss Moth from Karachi to Bombay (Juhu) via Ahmedabad. Thirty years later, i.e. in 1962, Burmah Shell again had the privilege to fuel JRD Tata's re-enactment of the original flight. Burmah Shell also fuelled flying boats, which carried airmail at slightly higher rates than sea transport, at several locations.
As a true pioneer would, the company introduced LPG as a cooking fuel to the Indian home in the mid-1950s. And all along, it went beyond selling petroleum, to educate the customer. Besides selling Bitumen, the company pioneered desert road construction, training road engineers. It provided free technical services to industrial customers - big and small - and it became a part of the company's culture.
- On Stream - The Burmah Shell Refinery
An agreement to build a modern refinery at Trombay, Bombay was signed between the Burmah Shell group of companies and the Government of India on 15th December 1951.
Burmah Shell Refineries Limited was incorporated as a private limited company under the Indian Companies Act on 3rd November 1952, and work began on the marshland of Trombay at Bombay. Man and machine worked relentlessly, and soon the swamps gave way to towers and tanks of steel, and miles of pipeline.
The refinery on 454 acres of land at village Mahul went on-stream on 30th January 1955, one year ahead of schedule. Dr. S. Radakrishnan, Vice President of India, declared the 2.2 MMTPA (Million Metric Tonnes Per Annum) Refinery open on 17th March 1955. It was then the largest refinery in India then.
With this infrastructure, free India moved one step closer to self-reliance.
- From Burmah Shell to Bharat Petroleum
On 24th January 1976, the Burmah Shell Group of Companies was taken over by the Government of India to form Bharat Refineries Limited. On 1st August 1977, it was renamed Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited. It was also the first refinery to process newly found indigenous crude (Bombay High), in the country.
Shaping the Future
The core strength of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited has always been the ardent pursuit of qualitative excellence for maximisation of customer satisfaction. Thus Bharat Petroleum, the erstwhile Burmah Shell, has today become one of the most formidable names in the petroleum industry.
Bharat Petroleum produces a diverse range of products, from petrochemicals and solvents to aircraft fuel and speciality lubricants and markets them through its wide network of Petrol Stations, Kerosene Dealers, LPG Distributors, Lube Shoppes, besides supplying fuel directly to hundreds of industries, and several international and domestic airlines.
- Dynamic Growth Post Nationalisation
Following Nationalisation in 1976, Bharat Petroleum changed gears and embarked upon a rapid growth path. Turnover, profitability and financial reserves grew by leaps and bounds. Massive expansion and modernisation provided a tremendous boost to the company's performance. Large-scale recruitment and training became critically important to meet the demands of expansion.
- The Winds of Change - A Transformed Organisation Emerges
Opening up of the Indian economy in the nineties brought with it more competition and challenges, kindled by the phased dismantling of the Administered Pricing Mechanism (APM) and emergence of additional capacities in the region in refining and marketing.
In 1996, Bharat Petroleum went through a process of visioning, involving people at all levels, which evolved a shared vision and a set of shared values. Based on this, the company restructured itself, in a proactive move to adapt to the emerging competitive scenario. The function-based structure was carefully dismantled and replaced with a process-based one. This made the company more responsive to its customer needs.
Bharat Petroleum realises that, in the long run, success can only come with a total reorientation and change in approach with the customer as the focal point. Today, Bharat Petroleum is restructured into a Corporate Centre, Strategic Business Units (SBUs) and Shared Services and Entities. The organisational design comprising of five customers facing SBUs, viz. Aviation, Industrial and Commercial, LPG, Lubricants and Retail and one asset based SBU, viz. Refinery, is based on the philosophy of greater customer focus.
The Planned Approach
Increasing globalisation, new products and services, and innovative marketing have resulted in a very market savvy consumer. The production-based success philosophy of marketers has now been replaced by a customer-oriented philosophy. Bharat Petroleum has taken cognisance of this situation well in time and has been taking radical steps to keep itself attuned to the changing times, realising that the future belongs to those who listen and adapt to their customers.
Bharat Petroleum recognises that all strategic initiatives must conform to the overall vision ofthe Corporation and improvethe economic value. The Strategy Development effort at the corporate level achieves better focus in the new organisational structure, besides facilitating the SBUs in developing their respective strategies that lead to an integrated Corporate Strategy. A Business Planning process has been put in place that not only provides opportunities for the SBUs to pursue their visionary goals in consonance with the Corporate Vision, but also continuously monitors trends and identifies strategic opportunities for the Corporation.
In the highly competitive scenario, it has become imperative to own dominant brands. The Brand Management team at Bharat Petroleum endeavours to build and manage a strong brand image reflecting Bharat Petroleum's core values of being 'INCARE', viz. INnovative, CAring and REliable. Emphasis is laid on continuously understanding customer behaviour, tracking their changing needs and expectations, and meeting these needs in the most cost-effective manner.
Research and development CentreAlways on the forefront to innovate, Bharat Petroleum is making distinct efforts towards Research and Development (R and D). Besides the R and D facilities at the Refinery and the Product Application Development Centre in Sewree in Mumbai, a new state-of-the-art RandD Centre is being set up near Delhi. The R and D Centre is being organised around three core groups - Process and Technology Development, Product Application Development and Environmental Engineering. A total outlay of Rs.3,000 million has been planned to be spent in three phases up to the year 2003-04 on this project.
Bharat Petroleum has always been on the forefront of harnessing technology initiatives for BPCL has been on forefront in harnessing technology. maximising efficiency and achieving greater customer satisfaction.
Bharat Petroleum is the first Public Sector Oil Company to implement Enterprisewide Resource Planning (ERP) solutions - SAP. The implementation project known as ENTRANS (Enterprisewide Transformation) has been awarded the 'SAP Star Implementation Award', with Bharat Petroleum having the distinction of executing the largest and the most ambitious SAP project in India. The challenge of SAP implementation was to ensure that all the integrated elements (of the complex multi-modular integrated solutions that impact the entire workflow of the organisation) work seamlessly across the length and breadth of the country, including the remote locations. Providing online connectivity in these remote locations, given the full-fledged IT network infrastructure, was in itself a daunting task.
Bharat Petroleum is reaping the benefits of the integrated system in many areas of its operations. The early gains of implementation are in the areas of tracking customer-receivables, monitoring credit-management, inventory management, besides easing the operations in a large number of areas.
Furthermore, Bharat Petroleum has also set up one of the biggest 'Centres of Excellence' in Asia to provide online support to the end users and also work towards continuous improvement in business processes and handle product upgrades and new generation products.
With SAP as the IT backbone, Bharat Petroleum plans to take advantage of the Internet based capabilities along the entire value chain with a Customer Relationship Management solution. A large data warehouse project has also been implemented, which facilitates access to real-time accurate information on key performance indicators at all Bharat Petroleum locations. This enables the management to take strategic and business decisions, thus ensuring value-added services, better customer satisfaction and enhanced shareholder value.
People Above Oil
Over the years, Bharat Petroleum continues to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing environment, leading to changes in the marketing of products and services. In all these changes, only one factor has remained constant and has been the source of Bharat Petroleum's strength and inspiration for any future innovations - Bharat Petroleum's People. The feeling of ownership has facilitated all employees to understand the complexity of the market and needs of the customers, and respond to these needs with innovative initiatives and offerings.
For Bharat Petroleum, commitment of its employees is a critical resource. Fully realising that only a happy employee will put his best foot forward with the customers, Bharat Petroleum has taken many steps to make the organisation a great place to work. In a survey conducted by Hewitt Associates for the January 2001 issue of Business Today magazine to identify the best employers, Bharat Petroleum was ranked among the top ten employers in India. The objective of the study was to find out which companies had really charged the emotional and intellectual energy of their employees. The other companies who were selected were Infosys, Hewlett-Packard, P and G, ICICI, Hughes, LG, HLL, Compaq and Asian Paints.
Bharat Petroleum fosters effective value-based HR processes for development of people and their organisational capabilities with a view to provide them with a competitive edge and also to realise their personal vision in tandem with the corporate vision. The thrust areas include:
- Performance Management which links business goals with individual performance goals
- Recognising competencies and capabilities of the staff through Competency Modelling to help identify and place the right person in the right job
- Identifying competency gaps and bridging such gaps through appropriate training and developmental programmes
- Multi-skilling to encourage employees to take up new initiatives in the areas of Enhanced Fuel Proposition, Add-on Stores, One Stop Truck Shops, Grocery and Fast Food Stores.
Bharat Petroleum has been conferred the National HRD Award - 2000 by National HRD Network for making Outstanding Contribution to HRD.
At the National Petroleum Management Programme (NPMP) on Excellence in Creativity and Innovation (1999-2000), Bharat Petroleum employees bagged all the three awards in the individual category, along with four certificates of recognition in the team category.