India ranks fourth among nations in total annual oil consumption. It remains dependent on imported crude oil to meet its energy needs, but has surplus refining capacity, making India an exporter of petroleum products.
Two SOEs (State Owned Enterprises) lead the industry: Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) primarily focuses on oil exploration and production; and Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) operates most of the Indian refineries that produce petroleum products.
The Indian government opened these companies to partial public ownership when it liberalized the economy in 1991. The Indian government still holds a majority stake in the companies. Price controls on the public sector companies impacts their results.
Since 1991, independent oil and gas companies also operate in India. Following further relaxation of regulations, the Indian government allowed 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in many industry segments. Stricter standards apply to private partnerships with SOEs.
Over 1,200 Indian and international companies market petroleum and gas products. Most are small or medium size Indian firms. Three public sector firms dominate manufacturing: Bharat Petroleum, Indian Oil Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum.
Foreign firms such as Shell, ExxonMobil, Elf, Castrol and Veedol also enjoy a presence in the Indian lubricants market. Most of these companies exist on their own, through wholly owned subsidiaries, which are companies incorporated in India. Castrol leads the automotive lubricants sector, followed by Servo, the Indian Oil brand.
The lubricants and motor fuel category includes brands that make and market lubricants, and the retail businesses of oil and gas companies.